One of the hardest things a child will ever face in their youth is a divorce. Their young minds can’t wrap around the idea that Mommy and Daddy won’t be together forever. Their little hearts hurt when they realize that what they’ve always known to be their family will forever be changed. It’s difficult for children to understand when their parents split up, hard to adapt to the new life of having two homes. Often they will blame themselves and think it is something they have done wrong.
When my ex-husband and I made the decision to end our marriage, we hesitated for a long time before we told our boys. The time came that we were finally ready to sit down and talk with them about the impending divorce, and these inquisitive little boys already knew. Children pick up on a lot more than we give them credit for, and often know things we don’t think they do.
At first, it seemed the boys were adjusting well, and understood that though Mommy and Daddy couldn’t be together anymore, we would still be friends, and we both still loved our boys more than anything else in the World. Events were falling into place and the situation moved along without any hitches.
Then, it must have suddenly hit them, or the shock wore off, because I was surprisingly faced with a tween that hated me and acted out. He blamed me for the divorce, yelled and screamed terrible things at me, and ran off several times in which I had to chase him through neighborhoods.
My younger son didn’t act out or become angry, but he was full of questions. What if’s and why nots. It seemed he was harboring a secret hope in his daydreams of his parents falling in love again and getting back together. Those were some very painful, and sad, answers I had to give him.
I thought about therapy for the oldest to help him cope, but he refused when the subject came up and acted out worse. At my wit’s end, I sat through several phone conversations with their Dad. In the end, all it took was both parents to sit and talk with the boys, at separate times. For both of us to be on the same page, to continue to communicate with one other, and make sure the boys felt wanted and loved by both of us. He made it very clear to our oldest he would be punished at his Dad’s house also for acting out when he was with me. Dad told him under no uncertain terms had things changed in the regard of respecting his Mother and listening to her and behaving for her.
While not all marriages can end us amicably as ours has, and sometimes therapy may be the only choice, if you can still be friends and come together to continue to raise your children as a team, this seems to be a solution that works.