Divorce can be one of the toughest periods in a child’s life. I’ve partnered with The Big Kaboom for a series of articles which will shed light on some of the most important aspects of divorce impacting your children, such as: how divorce can affect children, custody and visitation, among others. In the first of many articles you will get a first hand look into divorce through a children’s eyes.
“So Dominic, what do you think about your mom and I getting divorced?” He paused for a second and responded, “Well, dad, to be honest with you, this makes me the 15th kid in my class whose parents are divorced.”
It was January 8th, 2009, and my wife ushered Dominic and Lucas into the living room to inform them that we were ending our marriage. When they heard the news, the boys started laughing. They both thought it was a joke; they were totally blindsided. And why not, they never saw a glimpse of a broken marriage.
And just like that, my 24 year marriage came to an end; Dominic went outside to play hockey; and Lucas stormed off to his room. At that instance, I should have realized that each son would manage this life altering event very differently. But, of course, I was too caught-up in my own emotions to have it register.
How Divorce Can Affect Children
Now, just over seven years later, I decide to go back in history and see what the boys thought about the divorce. How they felt? What they hated the most? What they learned? And, most importantly, how their lives changed because of the divorce. The idea of conducting these “interviews” was terrifying to me, but I moved forward wanting to know how divorce can affect children. I was not sure how Dominic and Lucas would react to my idea. Happily, they agreed to my proposal.
As you might guess, based on Dominic’s initial reaction to the news, he moved on quickly. Given his practically, Dominic looked at the whole thing as just a speed bump on the road of life. Although he was naturally saddened, he reasoned that being with each parent at different times would be no big deal. After all, he hardly recalled a situation where he needed both of us at the same time for anything.
Lucas on the other hand had a very different reaction to the same news–anger and extreme sadness. Sixteen years old at the time, this was the first really bad thing to impact Lucas’ young life. He took refuge in his music; listening to artists whose work reflected what he was feeling inside. To this day, Lucas, a musician, credits the divorce for exponentially expanding his musical spectrum.
As to what Dominic and Lucas hated the most of their post divorce world, they were in unanimous agreement:
– The bickering between their parents
– The moving between the two homes
At times, both felt as if their parents were acting like kids and they were the adults. And although their rotation between houses was one week at a time, they still hated the packing and moving every Friday afternoon.
“Intergenerational transmission of divorce” is the phenomenon that those who experience a parental divorce are significantly more likely to divorce themselves. It’s very well documented and backed by tons of research and data. So, naturally, I wondered if the boys were somehow jaded about relationships and marriage.
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” — Robert Fulghum
Lucas is looking forward to a day when he’s married and has children. In his parents, Lucas recalls two individuals that did not share many common interests. “You need to have major intersections with your spouse,” said Lucas. “I saw you and mom not sharing much of a life, professionally or otherwise. I don’t want that in my marriage.”
For Dominic, the divorce was the start of a new chapter. He was only 13 when we divorced. His post-divorce life allowed him to grow up in a very different environment than he was accustomed too. Part of this transformation began with my move to a section of Miami known as Brickell. The closest thing to New York in Miami, Brickell served as a platform for Dominic to explore and grow as an individual. “For me, it was a new life. I experienced many new things and grew up,” shared Dominic.
To my amazement, the divorce fundamentally changed Lucas, and in a positive way. The event was actually constructive for him; something he’s built upon. “Before the divorce, I was self-centered and narrow in my points of view.” reflected Lucas. “Post divorce, I became empathetic. I could really feel others’ issues and problems and help them. I’m now a much better listener.”
I know this has not been easy on my boys. I’ll never forget the day tensions boiled over between Lucas and me. As I came to understand, the disruption in his life was just too much to handle. Since that low point, I believe the three of us have made great strides. I credit the divorce with making me a much better father. And if for nothing else, the painful journey was well worth it.
Divorce is typically a long and complicated process, with children’s lives many times held in the balance. Divorce touches many aspects and is not just a legal matter. There are a multitude of things to consider — before, during and after, about how divorce can affect children. But no matter, I hope my story will help to keep your children’s best interest at the forefront of all your actions.
I truly regret the bickering and anger with my ex-wife, but that is but a faint memory. Now, I look forward to a life for me with two fine young men that I proudly call my sons. And having conducted these interviews, I’m elated to see that Dominic and Lucas built positively on this awful experience.
For those of you considering divorce or currently going through the process, I wish you the best. Divorce can be long and painful. But you can minimize a conflictive divorce through personal education, reflection and empowerment. Taking the time to understand how divorce can affect children can help you and them through this painful process.
Have questions about how divorce can affect children? Leave a comment below for the Carlos, divorced father of two and founder of The Big Kaboom.
About The Big Kaboom
As a unique service provider, we help people throughout the divorce process. Saving them time, money and frustration. We take the mystery out of divorce by providing answers and support with real people and trusted referrals to many types of professionals, including attorneys. We’re not a law firm nor do we provide legal advice, but we know first-hand how the business of divorce works. For more information about The Big Kaboom, please visit www.thebigkaboom.com or call 305.908.1171.