What Divorce Does To The Kids

As traumatic as divorce is for a couple, it is what it does to the kids that is most heartbreaking.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

As traumatic as divorce is for a couple, it is what it does to the kids that is most heartbreaking. One minute they are enjoying the freedom and glee of their lives, next minute, the music is interrupted. Kids love when life and family are one unified melody, a beating rhythm in their hearts, that familiar tune playing in their lives giving them a confident stride wherever they are. Divorce is the big screeching scratch in the record, that spoils that beautiful, soothing song that they wanted so very much to hear until the very end. The pleasant, sweet hum of family is so nice.

If there was betrayal by one of the parents, the conflict takes on operatic tones. The utter despair of the spouse who was betrayed crying out, the depths to which it quakes within his/her soul, the torture it does to everyone in the family's heart, the physical collapse of one parent into the discovery of the other's lies. The children experience the havoc wreaked upon their merry souls of childhood as the blows of betrayal beat on the family like a blasting drum. Everyone wants it to stop and wish it wasn't true. Betrayal by a parent, breaking the trust within the unified core of a family produces an angst, despair and hurt that if you expressed it, would be an opera, or a really sad disappointing book.

Kids don't want their families broken, and they don't want their father to betray their mother, or their mother to betray their father. It hurts them. It hurts them in a way they can't even express because they have to confront not only the pain of one parent who is hurt but the realization that the other parent is not who they thought they were. It hurts them because they never wanted to have a reason to question what kind of a person their parent was. Children don't want to choose. They want both parents and they want them to love eachother because that means all of them are loved unconditionally, too. How can one parent stop loving the other to the degree that they betray them and hurt them while saying they love the children? Children are made from both parents and have the same gene pool and characteristics and qualities. When one parent says to the other that they don't love them anymore, what happened to that love?

It is an awful and irresponsible assumption if one of the parents thinks that their betrayal is only hurting their spouse. The betraying spouse betrays the whole family. Whoever they had the affair with is reckless and insensitive to the children affected. Families are an organic whole; every action, word and deed has an effect on everyone. Children at their core want everyone to love each other. Divorce marches in to that happy musical like angry soldiers with guns coming down the aisle of the theater telling everyone to leave, we've been ambushed, there's a war out there. Who wants a war when you were enjoying a happy musical?

Kids look up to their parents as role models, so now what? Dad was lying this whole time to us, too. Mom won't stop crying, now what? What does this say to kids? They are not in the audience watching, they are central characters right up on the main stage, improvising their way through the painful realization that their childhood is gone. That sacred place they called Home where Mom and Dad were a team and all the focus revolved around family, is now divided. Why? The housekeeper; the bestfriend; the gal at the office; the travel agent; the secretary? That's who you love now? Really Mom, the mailman? the janitor? the trainer? Please stop, I don't want to read this cheap novel anymore. Nor do our children deserve these poorly thought-out plots. They deserve so much more.

If you are the parent that was so thoroughly for the beauty of family and the spirit of togetherness, and you felt blessed every day because in spite of how complicated and difficult life was, you totally knew in the roots of your soul that this union you shared with your children and spouse was something special and sacred and worth protecting and honoring and keeping, you feel the injustice. You know your children are robbed of something you wanted with all your heart for them.

Nobody wants to be disappointed by a spouse's betrayal. Nobody wants to discover the betrayal and lies and calculation and mean-spiritedness of a spouse, and especially a child does not want to see that in a parent. Here's the real problem, you don't get over betrayal, it stays imbedded in you, excuse the pun. You don't "move on" as this oversimplified, overused phrase hopes for. When there is no remorse or feeling sorry on the part of the betraying spouse, the hurt is always there. Healing the whole family comes only with his/her recognition for what they did and a sincere, authentic transformation within of being sorry and seeking forgiveness. The seeking of forgiveness is the spiritual bridge, an awakening and a coming to awareness. Alternatively, the person who was betrayed can "forgive" the person by surrendering to the knowledge that the betrayer hasn't a clue what they are doing, so as a means to "move on", uses this tactic to forget thinking about them. It is not true transformative healing that involves the whole family where everyone can feel the love, the betrayer's feeling sorry, where everyone knows that a shift has occurred. If there is no arriving at remorse, the wrongdoing lives on justified, explained away, minimized and continued. If the wrongdoing is overlooked this way in a community, the sickness leaks spores that filter out into the community and everyone lives with it in the air. Everyone knows it's unresolved, and that the situation doesn't sit right, and the children know this the most.

Part of being a good parent is knowing the impact we have on our children, and taking responsibility for our actions and behavior. When we are faithful to our spouse, we are being faithful to our children. Dads tell their daughters how they should be treated when they grow up by how they treat their mother. Dads teach their sons how to treat women and honor them. Moms teach their daughters how to be with men and teach their sons how to value relationships. What we practice is what we give our children. It takes deep commitment to be married. It takes wisdom to do what is right for a family. If we honor our spouse and are true to them, we give that to our children. If we show kindness, patience and love to our spouse, we show our children how to practice that. If we are there for our spouse through thick and thin as a true friend, our children learn that relationships take work and attention and are valuable. If we value the truth and are honest and say what we feel out of respect to our spouse and ourselves, we grow courage and integrity in our children.

I believe in marriage and family. It shattered me to have a partner that took that precious unity of family from my children and me. Divorce is all based on negative thinking and doing on to others what you sure wouldn't want done to your children. It's not a tune I enjoy hearing. I like the happier ones like Love and Marriage, What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love, and Teach Your Children Well. I'm still singing those tunes; they are classic and true and my children love them, too.

Popular in the Community