Divorce in the eyes of a child is far different from the parents ending their marriage. For them, a marital dissolution was a long time coming. Conversely, kids finding out about the life-altering decision likely cannot grasp the complexities of adult relationships. They are probably more predisposed to point fingers and place the blame on one or both parents.
According to Ann Gold Buscho, Ph.D., parents should proactively take steps to listen to their children and put their emotional turmoil first, even if they carry misconceptions that require correction. Continuing the close relationships established during the marriage is of paramount importance. However, children may not feel the same way and refuse to spend any time with their parents. Any form of communication can take the form of kids claiming their lives have been ruined.
Challenges in processing change
Buscho cites the challenges children have in understanding the complexities that come with adult relationships, even if they think they do. Their thinking is more black-and-white, designating one parent as the victim and the other as simply evil. However, they can identify one parent that seems more vulnerable when oversharing and providing details about the divorce from their point of view.
Instead of reacting to what one parent believes are unfair accusations, they should listen carefully to their children. Being defensive is counterproductive, even if the children are misguided in their thinking. Trying to set facts straight could undermine the other parent and lead children into emotional traps.
As far as the truth of what caused the divorce, far too many adult children of divorce have revealed that the “factual approach” did more harm than good.
Buscho suggests that parents must practice patience and keep hope alive. Continuing to reach out to angry children without pressuring them helps. Random text messages should be supportive and loving, not fodder to generate even more guilt. Careful and steady steps could mend once-shattered relationships.