Oftentimes, as a child of divorce, it is easiest to think about the separation and pain of your parents when dissecting a divorce. Yet no one ever asked me to my face, “How do you feel?” … For the first time I was not a child of divorce, but rather my own person who was shaped and moldedby the divorce. – Andrew
The above quote and picture are taken from an article about children of divorce and their future relationships. The link to the article is below.
Being able to talk with our children about our divorce is very important. Not from a standpoint of what they should or shouldn’t do, but from a place of what are the lessons I have learned about the decisions I made.
If you’ve been divorced, it becomes even more important to learn about what healthy relationships look like and your part in your previous marriage. Not only for your own understanding, but so you can have rich and rewarding conversations with your children in their teenage years and twenties about what you learned, and what you know.
No matter the age of your children– telling your kids that you got divorced because you didn’t love each other anymore is not helpful. Telling your children that you got divorced because their father or mother was a terrible person isn’t helpful either.
When your kids are young, you can say, “It’s complicated and hard to explain. I didn’t know enough about good relationships. I am learning more now. And we can keep talking about this as you grow up.”
As your children grow up and into their teenage years, tell your kids your truth (and don’t blame it on the other parent) — “I got divorced from your dad/mom because of a number of issues. And then you can say your truth, “I didn’t know enough about healthy relationships.” or “I wasn’t old enough to make the best decisions.” or “We didn’t know each other as well as we thought we did. ” Don’t forget to tell your children that you can love someone very much but not be a good match for marriage.”
Talking to your kids about your divorce is most helpful when you share your knowledge about what happened, what you did, and what you would do differently. You want your children to learn from you and not make the same mistakes you did.
In our single parent and stepfamily programs, we work with parents and teach them how to talk with their children about their divorce. Finding the right words and saying things in the right way will make the difference.
When my children have expressed their own desire not to get divorced (but they are afraid they might), I say to them, “You don’t have to. You can make different choices than I did.”
Teaching our children that they CAN make different life choices and better partner choices than we did is vital to helping them move forward and trust that they don’t have to repeat our mistakes. Our children can be better informed, can know more about healthy relationships, can learn what to look for in a partner, and make better choices than we did in choosing a marriage partner. But we have to tell them.
It’s a great article, and is also part of a new book. Click below for the full article: