This guest post comes from David Williams. He submitted this story on behalf of a family member who can offer a full picture of divorce through her parents’ divorce and her own…
Familial Evolution – Perspectives on Divorce from Child to Mother
When I was a child, my parents divorced. I was 14; I was the middle child of 3 children and felt very, very confused for a long time. I didn’t fully understand why the two pillars of trust throughout my life, the very two people my life revolved around were going their separate ways. I also didn’t properly understand love. I had never felt it, I had never experienced it (I’m not sure if I have truly have thus far), and so couldn’t understand fully what had seemingly broken down and ended.
My parents were great during the divorce. I see them argue only once or twice, and it never got too heated in front of me. They were amicable with each other, and when my father moved out the legal discourse was followed completely, with no post-separation quarrelling (as far as I know). I still saw my father frequently, several times a week at least, and even though it took me what seemed like a long time to adjust, I eventually did and the new arrangement became the norm.
I have been reflecting on this a frequently, of late, following my own divorce several years ago. At the time, I was angry, scared, confused and a little overly philosophical considering my young age. Being the middle child, I felt kind of ignored. Maybe that’s not the right word, but with my older sister moving out to unit, and my younger sister being of an age where she required extra attention anyway, I was a little lonely to say the least. However, what I have realized since is, in fact, that divorce made me a stronger person, and it unified us as a family. Which seems a tad ironic in retrospect?
Pre-divorce dinner time was always the same. My father would get home from work; we would eat separately, or at the most intimate, together but in front of the TV. I would, of course, speak to both of my parents, and my siblings, but not overly so. Chit chat, idle small talk etc. Nothing worth actually talking about. With my sister about to move away to university to study, it is actually quite worrying to consider how much I assumed I wouldn’t really miss her. (I’m sure I would have, had things actually worked out for my parents, though, but who knows?)
Post-divorce there was much more emphasis on one and another. Much more genuine interest. Whether I was eating at my mothers or across town at my fathers, we would now eat at the table. We would hug. We would tell each other we loved one and other and occasionally cry. A fad, you might assume that would wear out once the wounds of the situation had mended themselves eventually, but, in fact, the tradition remained and even now when I visit either parent we still sit right there at the old dinner table(s) and never leave before saying I love you.
My older sister and I became much closer through this affair. We would talk for hours about it; we would discuss how we feel, what we thought would happen, what we hoped would happen. We would even eventually talk about things not relating to divorce, such as movies, music, boys and clothes (sorry about the stereotypes, it was the 60’s). We bonded massively over this. My younger sister too, who really couldn’t understand it at the time began to rely on me more so, as I came to rely on my older sibling.
We truly bonded through the event and now today, still, my sisters are my best friends.
My parents’ divorce also made me independent, reliable, more mature and even slightly more world-weary than I maybe was before. I then was able to impart my own experiences on my own children when I eventually had them, adopting simple things like dinner at the table, regular conversation and other bonding methods I learned through my parents’ divorce.
When, unfortunately, my own marriage broke down several years ago, my children were around the same age I was when my parents separated 13 or 16. I was able to understand their trauma whilst also attempting to repair my own. I knew the type of things they were going through and could see similar changes in them that I feel I experienced in my youth.
Toward the end of my marriage the only thing that stopped me ending it sooner was the fear of my children’s well-being. I didn’t want to hinder their youth, damage their expectations of love and the world or put undue and unfair pressure on them. So much is written on the devastating effects divorce can have on children, and I don’t doubt these for a second. However, children are resilient, strong and very audacious.
My children, now both around 20, were disgusted to find out the reason me and their father did not part sooner was because of our fears for their wellbeing. Which ultimately is not a fair burden to unload on a child? The purpose of this discussion is to impart my experience of divorce as a young child and to note that it was not all doom and gloom. Even though it was hard for my mother and my father, I would not change a thing. It ultimately brought us closer together and even though separate, made us a family.
Author Bio: This is a guest post by David Williamson, who is a content writer and writes on legal topics like family law or divorce law. Visit our website if you have any legal issues and need to consult solicitor.