Children Of Divorce

If there are major losers in a divorce, it has to be the kids who are caught in the middle between two warring people they love dearly. It’s not unusual for kids to be used as bargaining chips or held for emotional ransom. Other times they must choose one parent over the other. No matter what role the child has within the family, he or she is an unwilling participant in this very brutal and emotional event.

Children too young to be independent and too emotionally immature to understand why this is happening, protect themselves and their emotions by whatever means they can devise.

The term “children” does not mean kids up to a certain age, it applies to children of any age. As I was reminded many times by my mother, “As long as I am alive, you are my child!”

Children are not instantly endowed with the ability to cope with their parents’ dysfunctional relationship when they reach legal age. The actual divorce is not necessarily the most difficult thing children will go through when their parents decide to call it quits.

Divorce may be a relief after having front row seats during their parents’ arguments. Some children are pulled in as unwilling participants in the vicious battles fought between the two people they love the most. Ideally, husbands and wives would settle their differences in a calm manner and in rational terms. Ideal situations don’t work in the real world.

There are no rules of “how it should be done” for husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. The “Golden Rule” is a good goal but anger and bitter emotions get in the way of common sense.

Needing a scapegoat, a mother or father may blame marital problems on a child. “You caused this, now are you glad?” It is unfair, but it happens too many times. It takes years for an adult child to come to grips with the guilt this causes. I know because I heard those words when I was a kid.

Sometimes the conflict in the home causes a child to seek safety elsewhere. Scared about life without your spouse? What fears do you think a runaway child suffers? Life on the street may seem the only alternative to violence in the child’s home.

My younger brothers quit school and ran away from home when they couldn’t take any more of the arguing. I got married instead. Once we were gone, our parents divorced. But the damage had already been done.