Justifying divorce to young children

Posted by: Di

Justifying divorce to young children - 10/25/11 06:42 PM

Even though I've not had kids, hence, never had to divorce from father, I'd like to know how you justify the fact that "Dad" will no longer be living with you?

So many friends lately have been divorcing, and I want to, hopefully, help them BEFORE the divorce happens. How do you tell the children? And what ramifications can you/do you live with? Or do you even think of them?
Posted by: Ellemm

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/25/11 06:59 PM

I'm sure you only want to be helpful but my advice would be to tread very, very carefully in offering advice to others. None of us knows what's really going on in someone else's marriage and no one ever gets married hoping they can get a divorce someday. I have known some real horror stories, including people who were lucky to escape with their lives. My rule is to try and not give advice unless someone asks for it.
Posted by: Di

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/25/11 07:08 PM

Yes, I totally understand that. But just curious.....how DO you justify it to the children?
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/25/11 10:05 PM

Oh Di, I am sure most women consider the children in a decision to divorce. I know I did. And I ended up deciding that divorce was justified.

And, considering the verbal, emotional and physical abuse each one of us (three kids and my mother) experienced -- generally in front of the others -- I certainly wish my mother would have decided to divorce my father while I was still living at home. (She waited until the youngest kid was in college.) She says she chose not to file sooner because she didn't think she would have been able to support us as well as could be done if she stayed married. Instead, we all walked on eggshells as we all feared his temper - and never knew what might happen to set if off.

Then again, there are situations where one or the other parent up and leaves - abandoning the family. Sometimes drugs, alcohol or mental illness are involved in these sitautions.

Now in the case of my divorcing my first husband, alcohol and infidelity were involved. And he refused to quit either. The kids were 5 and 2. The marriage counselor told us NOT to tell the kids anything. She said they were too young to notice what was happening. Bunk!!

We told our daughter, the 5 year old, together, and it did not go well. We didn't tell our son -- I just moved out into an apartment and once moved, came and got both kids. Well, he certainly noticed that his surroundings had changed, and as a result, he refused to go to sleep alone. He needed to have me there, even during naps. And he would situate himself so that his leg was touching me, so that he could try to be alerted if I got up to leave!

I refused to tell the kids their father was cheating on me, but during their visitation times, they certainly noticed the woman and similarly aged girl who eventually moved in with him. (I had it stipulated in the divorce that she could not move in with him for 6 months, but that didn't mean that they didn't meet her and her daughter.)

So when you talk about justifying divorce to young children, I guess I'd say the need to justify depends on the situation. And many times, no justification is needed, the evidence is out there for all to see.
Posted by: Ellemm

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/26/11 02:33 PM

Di, I haven't been divorced, but am going to assume that people justify it to the children because the family staying together is going to be worse than splitting up. Just as people justify moving the family because of a job, sometimes everyone isn't going to be happy and there's going to be dislocation. At the end of the day, someone has to earn some money and there has to be some order and peace in the home. If there's no hope of that, things need to change.

You know, when daddy has cleaned out the bank account and disappeared, I'm not sure where the justification comes in. I actually know 5 women this has happened to and I know a man who was abandoned with the kids. Sometimes the parent is left just trying to keep things together.
Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/26/11 02:39 PM

I'm not sure it can be justified. Sometimes people prefer to remain blind to TRUTH. Innocent people may tell the truth but
the guilty are behind their backs lying 'n saying the opposite.
And in some instances kids refuse to face reality, because lies are easier to deal with. My own experience is this: Sonny boy was age 13 when his dad left home. Our divorce was bitter. Afterwards, poppa immediately married his longtime girlfriend. My son is still buying into daddy and step-mommy's lies! And the lad is grown with 4 grown daughters. Di don't even bother your mind about trying 2 pad the blows for other people. If there's 1 lesson I've learned these past 6 1/2 years, it's, no good deed goes unpunished!
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/26/11 06:05 PM

LOL, Jabber! "No good deed goes unpunished," was the mantra of one of my good friends from college. I haven't heard it for years.

With young children, I think they need to be assured that the divorce wasn't a result of something THEY did. At least, I know with my daughter, who -- as I mentioned earlier in this thread -- was 5 when her father and I divorced, her biggest concern when we told her -- the thing that brought her to tears -- was her belief that she had CAUSED the breakup.

In her case, she had very good friends at daycare whose parents were divorced, and she had innocently suggested to me perhaps 6 months earlier, that perhaps we could get divorced too. The way she saw it, those kids got loads of extra attention from their parents -- and 2X as many toys at Christmas, because they celebrated twice, once with each parent.

Then, without my being aware of it, she'd changed her tune about the "benefits" of divorce after seeing the movie "Kramer vs. Kramer" on TV. (I had no idea she'd seen it!)

Based on my experience, I think kids can come out of a divorce without being too emotionally scarred if the parents are both willing to work at emotionally (as well as financially) supporting their children and working to build the children's self-esteem.

I just saw a website with a program devoted to building kids' self esteem called "High Self Esteem Kids" or something like that.

Joe Rubino, who is promoting it, is someone I have known for about 30 years. I respect him, and he's got some good people involved. But, in the spirit of full-disclosure, I don't know anything about the program, I am not personally involved with it, and I don't have anything to gain financially from that link.

However, if you want to help children, Di, one thing I think is really imperative is to build their self esteem. It's especially important in a situation where the kids are dealing with divorce.
Posted by: Di

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/27/11 05:02 PM

Hey, I've been divorced before..and I now realize that it can also be the stubbornness of both parties to not get along. Other than the danger of things (yes I know that can happen, too), marital counseling CAN help if a couple do want to "save" the marriage.

I'm certainly not talking about dangerous situations here. Not long ago I spoke with a woman who divorced her husband years ago. She admitted to her adult child that the reasons were certainly things that "could have been worked out" had they been a bit more mature about it.

Kids suffer after divorce. Even if they "seem" ok later on. There are residual issues in everyone's life if their parents divorce. Ie: Insecurities, dis-trust, anger etc.

I watch my friends who've been products of divorce or abandonment..and I can pick them out!'

Heck, I even have issues due to having my mother die when she was 43 (I was 18)...but that was not a choice. Whole 'nother ball of wax!
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/27/11 06:59 PM

Hey Di,

You are correct that kids suffer after divorce, but don't you agree that they also suffer from living in a family where there is strife, anger, physical abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual perversion happening?

If these conditions exist, and counseling does not help -- I know that my first husband and I went to counseling, but he flat out told the counselor her was there because I dragged him there, and he also told her that nothing would change.

So in cases like that -- when counseling doesn't resolve anything -- I don't think staying together "for the sake of the children" makes sense.

I did an teleseminar some time back with a woman whose husband was a sex addict -- and in their case counseling DID help and the family was able to stay together. She wrote a book about her experiences, which NABBW reviewed. Name is slipping my mind right now.

So I do realize that counseling CAN help. But both parties have to want to change.
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/27/11 09:07 PM

By the way, the book I referred to above is called Afterimage: A Wife's Story of Recovering from Her Husband's Sex Addiction and it is by Maurita Corcoran.

Her discovery rocked her world and resulted in a separation. They DID go to counseling.

The link here, is to my review of the book. As you can see, Corcoran DOES deal with how to tell the children and how they were affected. She also goes into great detail about how few professionals thought their marriage could endure.

These days, Di, you will be happy to know, they also counsel other families dealing with sex addiction, on what must happen in order to keep the family together and allow the marriage to endure.
Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/28/11 02:34 PM

My 1st hubby and I split when our son was age 13. He now has grown children of his own. Yesterday I discovered my Ex and his wife never told my granddaughters EX's current wife and he were dating while grandpa and I were still married. People spin truth to pad their own wishes, no matter what. Yes. Children get hurt by divorce. Everybody within a fractured family atmosphere gets hurt: There are no winners when divorce rips a foundation out, from under the homestead.
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/28/11 06:20 PM

People spin truth to pad their own wishes, no matter what.

Everybody within a fractured family atmosphere gets hurt: There are no winners when divorce rips a foundation out from under the homestead.

So true, Jabber, and yet we still continue to build up families and then fracture them with our actions. I don't know what the ultimate solution to this might be.

The concept of "trial marriages" where couples live together without the commitment of marriage has certainly been floated and tried. But I still don't think it's the same as marriage. And I don't know where children fit into such a scenario.

When I ponder this, of course, I am doing so based on my personal experiences:

In all honesty, I married my first husband because I was in lust and wanted to live with him, but knew my parents would never let me come home again if they found out I was "living in sin."

At the altar, when the minister said "'til death do you part..." I mentally freaked out. But I kept my cool and proceeded with the wedding because I couldn't imagine doing a "Runaway Bride" routine. Too embarrassing.

Then my ex and I settled into a routine, and things were pretty darn good for the first several years. We both worked and we didn't have our first child until 5 years later. If you'd have asked me then, I would have said we had a very successful marriage.

Things began to fall apart (ie: my ex began publicly drinking to excess and secretly cheating on me) after the first baby came, though I totally didn't see it.

The wheels really fell off the wagon when I got pregnant the second time. Especially when the docs said the pregnancy was dangerous and that I should not have any more children. (Or if I did, I might die). Seems my ex really wanted to father more babies...though he didn't tell me this at the time.

So a trial marriage wouldn't have kept me from that divorce, as I see it. The divorce happened after 10 years and 2 children. And it happened to a marriage that had seemed quite successful until the -- very much desired -- children came along.

Other thoughts I've had:

Maybe there was less divorce in pioneer days because life was so challenging people had to band together to survive, and perhaps they were just too tired to fight or stray...

Maybe there is more divorce now because we live longer and the opportunity to cheat probably presents itself more easily.

Maybe we need to teach "how to have a successful marriage" in all high schools. We don't do that, of course. But it seems to me that the classes some kids take, where they have to simulate parenting a child DO go a long way toward reducing teen pregnancies.

So who else has thoughts on how we can either justify divorce to young children? Or -- better yet -- how we can keep bad marriages from happening in the first place... Then we wouldn't have to justify any divorces to our young children.

Which, of course, is where this whole discussion first began.

Posted by: Di

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/29/11 02:33 AM

Dad has always told us "you have to work at marriage"....he was never a "divorce" type man. Granted Mom died early when they were married under 25 years, but his current marriage certainly could have gone awry. But he maintains a "'til death do us part" attitude.

Sadly three of his children have been divorce more than once. The fourth has married once and continues to this day. Very, very sad and I'm sure, as a parent, it's heartbreaking as well.

Even tho' some don't "see" it, many adults I know still suffer due to their parents' divorces. Some acknowledge that, some don't. I see the insecurities in their lives....patterns of indecisiveness and other emotions can come thru. Granted, they can happen to ANYONE, but, since I'm not a product of divorce, it's easy to see how it has effected others.

Posted by: Di

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/30/11 02:52 AM

Yet another friend, just today, told me of her divorce after 28 years and that "people change" HELLO! No kidding!

I think it's just that people (me included) just are too stubborn/self centered to WANT to make changes for the sake of "'til death do us part", which we all vow at the altar.

It's so sad........(me included!)
Posted by: yonuh

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/30/11 02:33 PM

Yes, people change. And it takes two people to make a marriage work. When only one partner is working at keeping the marriage viable, it is going to fail. And when one partner falls into addictions that put the financial and mental health of the family at risk, in spite of treatment, that marriage is not going to work.

I think that 'til death do us part' is admirable, but sometimes it's the death of the relationship that ends it, not the death of one of the partners.
Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/31/11 01:54 PM

I agree, yonuh! There are a lot of things that contribute to killing a relationship. To me, loyalty is a big issue. Trust and truth are right up there with it!
Posted by: Ellemm

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/31/11 01:55 PM

Even though many marriages don't make it til 'death do us part,' I wish we'd change our conceptions of marriage anyway. As a society, we're big on getting married very young because it looks better and on dreaming the big fairy-tale story. Neither scenario is a recipe for success.

We not only allow but encourage our young people, especially women, to over-focus on the Queen for a Day, stress-filled, blowout party but don't ask them to pay any attention the fact that they are entering into a contract. Whether they like it or not, this contract will mix finances, possessions, and children.

Di's original comments are correct: what about the children? What about caring for each other? How many women do we still see who thought that getting married would take care of everything, only to discover that through divorce, widowhood, or illness that their role in the family would change?

We act like marriage is out major step into adulthood but enter into it like children watching a Disney movie. In many other cultures, you owe financial support to your original family regardless of whether you divorce and remarry. Abandoning your first and subsequent families would be unthinkable. I think we distract women with the wedding dress and parties so they fail to grasp that this is business as well. (Men, too). Seriously, it ought to be harder to both get married and divorced, but I don't think that's going to happen. We're too invested in the idea that love will somehow conquer all, which it cannot and does not.
Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/31/11 05:00 PM

I get the point that marriage isn't a panacea for curing life's ills. But humans are going to be attracted to each other, no matter what. So, should they get married? Live together without marriage? Physically entwine, then go their separate ways? What?
Posted by: Ellemm

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/31/11 06:32 PM

Oh, I hear you. Being attracted to someone else and being married, though, are two separate things. Liking to be with someone isn't the same as long-term situations like going to work, fixing things around the house, paying bills, or raising children.

Even with the best intentions, there are going to be marriages that don't work out. But we already know plenty of situations that are tailor-made for failure: marrying too young, marrying because someone is pregnant, lack of employment, incompatibility with finances, drug or alcohol or violence proglems, etc.

I think the bigger issue comes with children. Men and women come together and break up all the time, but children are there to stay. Do we pay much attention beforehand? Oh, heck no. What we can do is encourage each other to think before we leap off that mountain in the first place: do you want to mix your money and home with this person? Do you see him/her as a good parent? Have you even talked about children? How does this person treat the rest of your family? Have you talked about anything?

By the way, I happen to live in a common-law marriage state. People here can claim all the benefits of being married if they have lived together for a certain period of time.

And I can offer as the latest exhibit in marital foolishness Kim Kardashian filing for divorce today, after 62 DAYS of marriage and a $10 million wedding. What a joke.
Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 10/31/11 06:43 PM

I saw that Kardashian foolishness. And the things you listed to think about before marriage, I didn't even consider when I was young. I fell head-over-heals and got married to a person I met in high school. We'd dated for 3 1/2 years but I never thought about his personality, ability to earn a living. Nothing! Zip!
The "I Do" lasted 14 years, but still failed. And my son paid the price. Then again I was abandoned at 25 months old by a women who'd been married 12 years and had 5 kids before she had me. So go figure! P.S. I have nothing against common law relationships. It's just when folks are young, hormones override brain power!!!
Posted by: Mountain Ash

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 11/01/11 09:13 AM

Part of the problem is the expectation girls have about the white dress wedding and fairy tale life..many view a story book "happy ever after"life.The books read by and to children..This can be culturally inbuilt.Gender driven .The thought that a man will provide a home and cope with providing for another and maybe children.The economy falls the home is insecure...
Even TV adverts and magazine adverts from the past bear witness to a society where its 2point1 children.
Reality is a couple have to respect each other and that comes from first respecting themselves...Young people mature physically before they do emotionally and unless they respect each other life can be hard.
so educating our young about the commitment to another whether within or outwith marriage is important..This can be done in many ways...
Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 11/01/11 02:03 PM

I agree. Respect is huge in any relationship. I believe children learn by example. And parents should be committed to one another, setting good examples and perpetuating high excellence in significant areas. I do believe in many cases too much is expected from the male gender.
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 11/01/11 06:12 PM

Ellemm, Jabber,

Thanks for correctly bringing the Kim Kardashian disaster into this discussion. I try not to pay attention to the tabloids and have never seen their show, so for awhile, I was one of those people who was wondering who the Kardashians were and why anyone cared.

But certainly, this news of her decision to divorce is one that ought to get a lot of people talking about what marriage means and what is important in marriage and life. I mean, the woman had THREE wedding gowns and the wedding was televised as if she were as important as British royalty!

I don't know anything about the couple, but I did see Kathie Lee and Hoda talking about this on the 4th hour of the TODAY show this morning, and it seems that Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford were at the wedding - so she may have a right to say more about this than some of us...

Kathie Lee showed press releases from both Kim and her husband Kris (bless him, but I don't recall his last name). Kim said she was making this decision "after much thought/careful consideration...blah blah" -- and Kathie Lee nailed it when she said that thought OUGHT TO have happened BEFORE the wedding.

As for groom Kris, he comes off sounding like a gentleman - and the more mature person of the two. He says something to the effect of, "I am devastated to learn that she filed for divorce..." and essentially holds the door open for reconciliation.

So maybe we can hope that the silver lining of all of this "fol de rol" might be that we actually start to have a national discussion about marriage - and what it takes to be ready for one.

Fingers crossed!

Posted by: jabber

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 11/01/11 08:39 PM

Well, Anne, that's a positive thought for an idiotic situation.
70 plus days isn't even enough to figure the other person's likes and dislikes, if you were sensitive enough to care. A 2 million dollar diamond and a several million dollar ceremony and all for nothing??? Good grief, Charlie Brown.
Posted by: chatty lady

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 12/18/11 10:15 PM

This whole situation boggles ones mind even if you've followed the show closely. Good grief!!!!!
Posted by: chatty lady

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 01/29/12 01:10 AM

If you follow the show you see where she and Kriss didn't mesh.. He is like a child trying to act grown up and she is much older acting for her age. The relationship was destrined for failure!
Posted by: chatty lady

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 03/12/12 08:42 PM

What ever happened to Kris? He seems to have disappeared off the planet!
Posted by: divorcelawyer

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 04/17/12 08:13 AM

Telling children about divorce is a very hard task.

Divorce Lawyers | Divorce Attorney
Posted by: Anne HolmesAdministrator

Re: Justifying divorce to young children - 04/17/12 04:36 PM

Welcome to the forum, divorcelawyer. We're glad you've joined us. Front page of the forum has all the instructions you'll need to know our rules and become an active participant.

Now to get down to your comment: Having had to tell children about a pending divorce, I'd say yours is a major understatement. Do you have any guidance to offer those facing this? Books or video training you recommend to your clients? Advice for grandparents on how to react and answer questions their grandchildren might ask would be helpful too. Obviously, what is said needs to be age-appropriate...