I Was a Child of Divorce Part 1

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I was 17 when my dad filed for divorce. I was a senior in high school, I had a brother who was a sophomore and my youngest brother was in 8th grade. I got a call from my dad when I was in school, he told me that he wasn’t going to be home when I got off school. No biggie I thought. Then he said “I’m leaving your mother, I wanted to let you know first, so don’t tell her yet if she calls you.” Click. End of conversation. Um….what the fuck? Who calls their eldest child and tells them they are leaving their mother and not to tell her?! Who does that?! Did he even realize how much pressure that put on me? How much guilt I felt at the time of knowing that kind of information and not sharing it with my mom?

Of course my mom called me like 20 minutes later saying “Are you okay? I just have this feeling something is wrong?” Of course she is having her daily motherly instincts that are usually spot on and creeping me out. So I do what my dad told me and I didn’t say a word. I pulled my middle brother out of class and we avoided going home until the last possible moment. When we walked inside, it was chaos.

You usually hear about kids who want their parents to stay together, or blame themselves for the divorce. Not us. We love our parents, but they fought ALL the time. Screaming at each other, calling each other names, I can still remember the fear I would get any time I heard them fighting. I would literally be shaking for hours. I was actually quite happy they were finally deciding to get a divorce. They weren’t happy with each other, we never did family things anymore because they would argue the whole time, and it wasn’t a very healthy environment for us to be in. So after 25+ years, they got a divorce.

How my parents went about their divorce was horrible. It went on for 3 years. They bashed each other, talked about the divorce to all of us, and kind of forgot that just because we were teenagers didn’t mean we liked hearing about adult problems. Especially your parents nasty divorce.

I was 17 when it all started, my brothers couldn’t handle being stuck at home and I was the only one who could drive. So some times I would take them out for ice cream or slurpees, just so they didn’t have to be around all the drama. I wanted to protect them, I was leaving for school soon and they were going to be stuck at home with God knows what.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. We were very fortunate to have a good childhood, even if our parents fought all the time. They still loved us and made sure we were taken care of financially.

I can’t begin to express the seriousness of parents fighting in front of their children. IT IS WRONG! There is no excuse as to why you have to verbally abuse your spouse, let alone in front of your kids.
It is not okay.
They hear EVERYTHING.
You think they are upstairs in their rooms playing with toys? No, no they are not. They are listening to you, they hear the words you are calling the person they love and look up to. They will be hurt, and there’s nothing you will be able to do to erase that image from their mind. You think they are asleep in bed? No, you’re wrong again. They are sitting on the stairs crying because they want to make you stop fighting. They want you to be nice to each other, like you taught them to be, treat others how you want to be treated.

Well, in my eyes, there was two ways I could handle this situation. I could either let it define who I will become and just follow in my parents foot steps and mimic their relationship strategies OR I could learn from it. Realize that THIS is NOT what marriage is about. This isn’t how you treat someone you love. I will NEVER let anyone verbally or physically abuse me, I will not tolerate it. And above all, my children will never have to go through what my brothers and I went through growing up.

So that is how I have been ever since. I will never tolerate arguing in front of the kids. I don’t care who you are. If I’m that upset I will say “I’m going to walk away from this conversation right now to cool off, we will revisit this issue, but right now I can’t rationally talk about it.” I firmly believe it is all about communication, but that’s a blog for another day.

Kids don’t deserve to hear you bash your ex/their parent/their parent’s new partner. They don’t need to hear you be negative about them. To this day both of my parents will STILL take jabs at each other, my dad got a lot better, I’ll give him that. But still. Come on. I tell my parents the same thing “I’m sorry you feel that way, but you chose to marry them, I didn’t get to choose my parents and I will love you both no matter what, always.”

I understand not everyone can control their anger, but I beg of you, please, not in front of the children. They didn’t do anything to deserve to hear that. They mimic what we do and say, they are sponges. Do you want them to grow up thinking that is how they should be treated? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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10 thoughts on “I Was a Child of Divorce Part 1

  1. I hated when my dad would say “sorry, but I just don’t think I’m going to ever be able to get back together with your mom”
    For the longest time i never said anything. Then I finally got sick of him assuming that I was just broken hearted by them not being together and said “good, frankly I hope you never do. You and mom were not good together.”
    I hate when Batman comes home and tells us all about the fights his biomom and her husband have when he’s there. He’s there for 3 days and comes home upset because that’s all he’s listened to the whole weekend.
    So sad. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Ohh man. The wonderful, wonderful memories. I am all too aware with the stair sitting, listening, with my siblings. I was much younger than you – my parents told us when I was in fourth grade (I was the youngest, two older siblings). They also had a long, drawn out process. We were all in the same house for another FIVE YEARS (I bet you can imagine how fun that was), and then they were still in court after that, but at least were in separate houses. You were a good big sister. Towards the middle/end my sister was also able to drive and going to be leaving for college, but she did try to get my brother and I out of the house whenever she could so we weren’t stuck in that toxic environment all the time.

    Through all the garbage, I also learned a lot. Like you – mostly things NOT to do. And as much as it sucked, would like to think there was some reason behind it. Even if it’s my husband telling me I bring a totally different perspective, or I mention points he wouldn’t think of, when dealing with court/divorce stuff with him and his ex and my stepson. I know what it’s like to be the kid dragged through the mud.

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  3. It is very wise to decide not to repeat the hurtful acts our parents committed. The cycle does not have to continue. This is also a great reminder that our kids see and hear a lot more than we think they do!

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  4. Great post & so true too. I’m a child of divorce as well, I was 10 years old at the time. My parents never fought though, but my mother had an affair and that was the end of the marriage. I elected to stay with my Dad. I’ve always been so grateful that they didn’t stay together out of some misguided thought that it would be best for me. My relationship with my parents is so different now than it would otherwise have been. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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  5. […] Mother’s Day is this Sunday. I thought I would have a ton of things to write about this week. I had an idea about what direction I wanted to take this week. Low and behold it is Thursday and I haven’t blogged about Mother’s Day once. I have an amazing guest post set up for Sunday, but besides that, I’ve got nothing. Then I thought to myself (duh, Jessica),  I could write about my own mother. I don’t think I have talked about her much, beside the post I made about being a child of divorce. […]

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