Divorce seems like death. The end.
A few times a year, some of my friends who were children of divorce supported each other by hanging out at the mall, going to McDonalds to buy milkshakes, and taking long walks by the waterfront. In a period of their life when they were at loss for words they built each other up.
I had both parents in the home. And when you’re used to having a mother and father around you take things in stride. I can’t count the number of years that the seats at the dinner table were filled with my parents, both my siblings, and an aunt or an uncle on my mother or father’s side of the family on holidays. The years are too many to count. I took pride when my Uncle Ed congratulated me on my athletic accomplishments. Yet, I knew I had peers who yearned to receive such praise.
Losing a parent to divorce is tough
I came across a poem written by a child of divorce. The poem was published over 10 years ago but I was moved by the poem because the words echoed what children of divorce still feel today. The poem examines the question, “Why did I lose my dad?”
The author describes how her father missed important events in her life. She missed his fatherly duties at home reading her bedtime stories, tucking her in at night and at birthday celebrations. He missed him seeing her off at the first day of kindergarten, that emotional day when children are introduced to strange new faces and frightened at parental separation. The girl had a flare for the theatrics and performing on stage, but her father missed her perform in school plays. Did her father know that she also worked hard to get good grades? Who knows, he was never around. For years the young girl wonders what life would have been like with her dad.
Counseling can help children of divorce cope
Children of divorce tend to hide their emotions but counseling can help them cope.
Research has shown that children of divorce react to counseling at different age groups.
Early latency (ages 5 – 8). Children in this stage react with great sadness. They may be fearful, insecure, helpless, and abandoned by the missing parent and feel guilt that their parents divorced.
Late latency (ages 9 – 12) Children in his stage have intense anger. They may feel emotions such as loneliness, loss, shock, surprise, and fear. Anger and probably the rejection of one parent are the predominant reactions of this age group.
Adolescence (ages 13-18). Adolescents in this age group also experience loss, sadness, anger, and pain. Behavior in this stage includes acting-out behaviors which include: Sexual promiscuity, delinquency, the use of alcohol and drugs, and aggressive behavior.
Find a support group
A good way to help children of divorce parents to deal with their emotions is for them to connect with adults at a support group at school or in the community. An adult peer who has experienced a divorce in childhood can model positive behavior by telling their personal life stories.
When a mother or father decides they no longer want to be a part of the family, that doesn’t mean that you did something wrong. Look up. You’re still the apple of God’s eye.
For information on how you can find a support group contact your school counselor, or check out online support groups.