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Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Case Against Divorce

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of what I really want to talk about today, let me first start by saying that I know divorce can be tricky for adults.  Some married couples feel that the only way that they can move on with their lives is to separate, or divorce.  There are those who feel slighted by the other, have perpetrated adulterous acts, or have simply fallen out of love with the one they married.  Despite the efforts that some couples make to stay married, sometimes it doesn't work out for one reason or another.  Yet, I don't want to speak to that end of divorce at all, the adult end.  Adults will do what they want, and if they don't have children, they alone have to deal with the consequences of their actions, whatever they may be.   For those married couples that have children and are considering divorce, the impacts of their actions are far greater than they can imagine, especially on their children.  They may be able to get over things and move on with their lives, but how will their children fare with their actions.  Children never have a say in what happens between a married couple, and rightfully so.   Despite the fact they don't get a say on what happens between their parents, they still have to deal with the consequences of their parent's actions.   We hear of divorced parents starting to over compensate in one way or another to try and alleviate the pain that the children may be feeling.  There may be special treatment on one side versus the other.  Quite often, there are emotional ramifications that are not always evident in the children as they struggle to deal with the separation of their parents.  Sometimes, the divorcing parents don't notice the effect as much as they should because they are embroiled in their own emotional issues and forget about the attention that their children need from them.  Regardless of the impacts, I can imagine that it is never easy for a child of any age to deal with the separation of their parents, even if it the reason for the divorce is because of abuse.  The psychological impacts go far beyond our understanding as adults and unless we have dealt with it as a child, we can never come close to understanding what it is like from the perspective of a child. 
My parents are still married and as such, I have a certain lack of understanding when it comes to empathizing with those whose parents are divorced.  Its the simple fact that I never had to go through it and as such, can never fully comprehend what a child goes through, until now.  No, I am not saying my parents are getting divorced, because they aren't, but after this past weekend in Vermont with my son at home freaking out that his dad wasn't around, I have a little more of an understanding of what a child goes through.  To be fair, I didn't witness my son's reaction, yet hearing of crankiness, obstinacy, and miserable nature, I can surmise fairly well what he was like.  If we look at a child, like my son, who is 19 months old, we get perhaps the clearest picture of what a child of any age goes through when it comes to divorce.  Yes, I know that I was only gone for two days, but that little glimpse painted a very clear picture.  At 19 months old, a child doesn't know how to deal with his/her emotions yet, they don't understand what they are feeling inside and can't necessarily communicate other than through their actions.  To me, this is a distinct sign of what any child goes through.  When a child gets older, they are able to understand more fully what their parents are going through, but that doesn't take away the feelings that they may have of not having a parent around.  I am sure that any child must feel the same way when a parents isn't around, especially through a divorce.  While they may understand that they can still see that parent, not having them around every day is the biggest detriment to them.  When growing up with both parents in the household, a child forms a bond with both of them, albeit in unique ways between mother and father, there is still a bond.  When one of those parents is absent except for certain days a month or however it works out, something is taken away from the child.  While an older child may not act out because they understand that is not what they are supposed to do, they still get those feelings of loss and abandonment that they internalize and must find a way to deal with.  My absence for two days was enough to cement my desire to never get divorced and never put my son or any future child through the loss of parent, even if it is not a permanent loss. 
For my part, I don't think that children and their emotions are taken into consideration enough when parents are going through a divorce.  Yes, I know that sometimes parents can't avoid getting a divorce for one reason or another, but I feel that 99% of the time, things can be worked through if both are willing to meet in the middle, have an open and honest discussion, and put in the time and effort to make things work.  Then again, this is coming from someone who has never had to deal with a divorce on a close family level.  I have had cousins whose parents got divorced, have had cousins who have gotten divorced themselves, and to be honest, sometimes I don't know how to feel about those divorces either.  For some reason, I just can't comprehend it and it never sits well with me no matter how much time passes.   I know my comparison with my son's emotions and not having me around for only 2 days might be pushing it a little, but is it really?  Is it really that far of a stretch to think that all children don't go through some emotional hardship when dealing with a divorce, even if they don't show it?  I don't think so, but then again, that is my opinion.  I think what more parents need to do is take the focus of the children sometimes and focus on themselves so they don't forget who they are married to.  Too often, children become all consuming entities that get between a married couple.  In the end, children move on and we are left with the person we married.  Let us not forget that, I know I won't, and lets try and provide a better emotional environment for our children by staving off divorce through open and honest communication.  I think if every parent started there, things would turn out better for a lot more people in the end. 

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