From the Mouths of Babes: Kids talk Divorce

92820214Divorce takes a devastating toll on families. And one must remember that divorce is not just a split between the spouses; divorce is a major chasm that divides the house, property, family members, friends, and, in most cases, children. Divorce can affect children in a number of harmful ways if the topic is not broached or handled correctly. We touched on the subject extensively in our recent blog entitled “How to help children of divorce.”  And one very high-profile case in point is Suri Cruise. The angelic offspring of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes may melt paparazzi cameras with her tremendous levels of cuteness, but Katie Holmes herself is attesting that the divorce is making Suri a little less angelic these days.

The Suri State of Things

Sources say that Suri has been throwing temper tantrums and acting out in various ways. Although Holmes is determined not to give in and allow the behavior to become habit, Suri’s new antics are understandable. Let’s get the run down: little Suri’s parents have divorced, she’s moved, she no longer sees her father every day, and she started school. Just one of these lifestyle changes is big enough to warrant a child to act out, let alone all four changes. But how does a parent walk the fine line between allow children to digest difficult information without indulging in the child’s bad habits? “Difficult” is way down on the list of words to describe this dilemma.

So if big shots like Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise can’t protect their child from the divorce bug, what chance do the rest of us have in stopping our children from being bitten? Well, for starters we can listen to what our children are telling us. In a new documentary by HBO entitled “Don’t Divorce Me! Kids’ Rules for Parents on Divorce,” real children from all around America are interviewed about their parent’s recent divorce. But what the documentary’s real message is what do these children wish they had hear and had happened when their parents divorced.

The truth about kids and divorce

As it turned out, the kids didn’t want to hear that they would be getting more toys, a bigger room in a new house, or a pet. Instead, children wish their parents would tell them the truth about divorce and that the divorce wasn’t their fault. But the children also had a few things they wanted to say to their parents too. The children didn’t want their parents to make them choose who to live with, which parent to visit, and the children certainly want their parents to know that they are not the middlemen in the divorce.

However, the documentary and the children weren’t done there. The divorce veterans also gave some pointers to fellow children and adults, like keep a pile or bag of essentials so it’s easy to transport things from house to house, and discuss the pending divorce with your kids as much as they want so they get used to the idea; in other words, don’t drop the divorce bomb and leave the conversation at that.

Demanding, drudgery, dark, desensitizing, and more; all those words aptly describe how it feels to go through the divorce process, but don’t forget how it affects the children in your lives. And most importantly, don’t forget to ask how they feel throughout the process. And almost more importantly, never forget to keep listening.

When we talk about the effects that divorce has on children there typically are not enough words to express the emotional price that is paid. And while we tip our hats to HBO for covering the subject would be remiss to not mention another divorce and children related resource  from our friends at ProfessorChild.com whose video about children and divorce from the child’s point of view is a must watch for those interested in learning as much as possible regarding the topic. At some point we must ask, when it comes to researching the effect that divorce has on children, can we ever learn too much?

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