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Divorce through the Eyes of a Child

We have been blessed to have escaped the tragedy of divorce in our extended family.  Save for one break up on my husband’s side of the family, which occurred years before my children were even born, our children are innocent to the emotional stress and heartbreak dissolving marriages leave in their wake.

That was until this past Saturday when our youngest came home from a play date very shaken and concerned.  I was in bed sick with a virus and she climbed up beside me. I knew right away from the look on her face that something had happened. Too wired – I could almost see the anxiety coursing through her ten-year-old body – to accept my hug she sat across from me and relayed a sad story.

Right before my husband had dropped her for the afternoon, her friend’s parents had told all three of their children that they were getting a divorce. The father was moving out in a few days and would live somewhere near by – “fifteen minutes away.” According to her friend, the parents told the children they were doing it because it was not a good influence on them to see their parents fighting.

Our youngest who takes life hard, has a compassionate soul and a memory of her early life’s loss housed in the depths of her being could not fathom this family’s misfortune.  She pummeled me with questions, many pretty darn insightful:

Q: Don’t they know that divorce is a worse influence on their children than seeing them fight sometimes?!

Q: Why can’t he just live in the apartments right nearby?  Why doesn’t he just buy the house down the street, then they could see him all the time too?

Q: Don’t they know how sad this is for their kids?

Q: Who would we live with if you and Daddy got a divorce?

Q: I know you say it won’t happen in our house, but what if it does? But what if it does? But what if it does?!

Getting her to bed that night was not easy. The fear of losing the stability of the last nine years had lit up every alert zone in her brain. I knew that the excitement - the fight and flight hormones - were coursing through her taught body.

I lay beside her and prayed for that family and for all kids – and parents – experiencing divorce. And once again I was amazed at what my own child taught me about the hard realities of this life.