Working with several divorced families recently made me seriously consider this question. It’s obvious that divorce is difficult for children because their whole world collapses. Often the imprint of divorce leaves major trust issues. It is ordinary for an adolescent with divorced parents to say “I’ll never get married.”
Yet there has to be more that is “positive”; besides kids are no longer an audience for the ugliness between their parents. I have complete faith that there are always both the good & the bad to every situation or person. This complicatedness is why I’m so interested in working with couples and families. Asians appreciate polarities as a part of every day culture which is something I had to be trained in, as an American.
I want to give the kids who come to me in the midst of their parents divorce something to hang onto, something that can be a source of strength. Life is very hard and boomers will be the last generation that things were easier for. Joblessness, not having enough money to live on their own, running out of water etc. will leave the next generation with fewer options and harder choices.
Kids in divorced families learn to live in very complicated situations. They learn to ignore and survive painful ugly truths about both parents. They learn to live in two homes and schlep their stuff from one place to another. They learn to welcome new step parents or new “friends” of one parent when the other is in a fury about it.
Embracing complicatedness leaves you with more soul.
T.V. from the 1950’s was less interesting because of the simplicity of the heroes. The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Annie Oakley & Zorro were good guys 24/7. As human beings we couldn’t really see ourselves in them, because we are both good & bad. Now, heroes are complicated and much more authentic and feel more like us.
It is never accurate to believe one parent is solely “right”. It always takes two to kill off a marriage. If you can face this and accept the true complicatedness of the situation it will benefit everyone.
Respect the complicatedness that kids experience in divorce. Help them to trust their own experiences by being honest. “It’s hard for me to accept your Dad/Mom is dating and I need to share that with my friends and not spill it over onto you.” This would be only one example of acknowledging truth that will make their pain more bearable. Isn’t that what really matters?