Being a kid of divorce can be hard.
Why is this important to know?
Because whoever you are, whatever role you play – you can make a difference.
Aware? Of What?
I have always said – divorce is a ‘taboo, but not a taboo’ topic.
We all know of somebody who has experienced divorce, whether it be ourselves, a friend or a cousin, but who really talks about it?
In my experience, not many people.
So, What Is There to Talk About?
I’ll say it again: being a kid of divorce is hard.
Hard emotionally, hard logistically, hard in really random and unique ways.
Let me give you an example:
Mum and dad divorce. You now have two homes instead of one. You are now scheduled to go to each home at certain times of the week (after a lengthy battle about who gets more time). You want a relationship with both parents, but it’s hard when you’re fed nasty information about each of them. Your parents lack solid co-parenting communication. You have to pack a bag each time you travel between two homes. You often forget clothes and necessary items. You stress about your parents being in each other’s company. Conflict arises on special days such as Christmas or birthdays .
In short, there are countless random and unique challenges that are associated with being a kid of divorce.
You may be reading those examples and be thinking ‘well yeah, that’s life and it’s not that bad’.
Sure. Maybe you’re right. But that doesn’t take away from the daily challenges kids of divorce face because of a decision they did not make.
Let me give you a more personal example:
Growing up, I had major troubles getting to sleep. I had so much fear. Fear that the parent I wasn’t with wasn’t OK. I would stay up, anxious that I missed them. The hardest thing was that I couldn’t know if they were OK until our next scheduled phone call or the next ‘change-over’. I couldn’t just run into their room and check.
These unique and random examples can be hard for a 5-year-old, or a teenager, and even an adult.
So, Who Can Do What?
It goes without saying, parents play the biggest role in how challenging things can be for a kid of divorce.
Some ways parents can help kids of divorce:
Reminding your kid that your divorce is not their fault
You’re probably thinking (and I’ve heard this SO many times) ‘of course they know this!’. Say it. Explicitly.
Eliminating conflict between you and your co-parent, especially where it involves the kids;
Creating a schedule that suits the needs of your kid, ensuring stability and a good relationship with both parents; and
Simply being aware that whilst the divorce may very well be hard for you, it is hard for your kid too.
Finally, always remember:
Showing respect for your co-parent is showing respect for your kid.
Friends, Cousins, Aunties, Uncles, Teachers, Coaches
I can’t quite explain how great of a role you play when it comes to a kid of divorce’s world.
You can genuinely be the lifeline that a kid of divorce needs amongst the challenges they are facing within their immediate family.
Simply by being aware or acknowledging that a kid of divorce will face some challenges in their situation can assist.
Some other ways:
Checking in: this doesn’t even need to be explicit, simply asking: how are you doing? Are you okay? can help.
Not labelling: identifying a kid of divorce as coming from a ‘broken family’ plainly sucks Check out my Blog on ‘Broken Family’ for more.
Not making assumptions: if you’re curious or concerned, have a conversation! Making assumptions can be troubling to your relationship with a kid of divorce. I’ve talked about this in a whole separate Blog – check it out here.
And finally, making excuses. There have been countless times where my support network, outside of my immediate family, have made excuses ‘because my parents are divorced.’
Let me give you an example:
I grew up as a sporty kid and I was quite competitive in Netball. Around the age of 14/15, I wasn’t having a great time over a couple of training sessions and games; I just wasn’t performing. After another mediocre performance, my coach pulled me aside and asked me what was going on at home. Whilst there was pretty much always something going on, my dissatisfactory performance had nothing to do with ‘what was going on at home.’ This assumption gave me the ickiest feeling. I genuinely thought to myself;
‘wow, is everything wrong in my life going to be linked back to mum and dad getting a divorce?’
Don’t get me wrong - asking questions such as ‘what is going on at home, are you okay?’ can be helpful, just be mindful of the context and the way it may make a kid of divorce feel.
The most important role players! Remember: you are not alone, identify your support network and accept their help.
You are in control of your thoughts and actions alone, no one else’s.
I’m Here to Chat!
If you are a kid of divorce, a parent or a friend, cousin, aunty, teacher or coach - I’m here to chat.
Navigating the ‘taboo but not taboo’ topic of divorce can be challenging. But it’s a challenge we should all be willing to face – for the kids.
You can reach out to me at email@example.com or by filling out a contact form here.