Oftentimes clients say that they are waiting until after high school or college graduation to get a divorce so that the child or children do not have to experience a divorce. A lofty goal in most cases in which at least one party is dreadfully unhappy. Yet as they say, the road to you know where is paved with good intentions and this may be another example.
Recently, I read a column in which the writer said that she was glad her parents split when she was a young teenager, and I was reminded of several studies that have come out over the years in which children who were interviewed said that they wish their parents had divorced before they actually did.
The fact of the matter is that kids are smarter and far more intuitive than we give them credit for. They know far more than we want them to- don’t think for an instant that they don’t know that mom and dad are having marital problems. And it scares them. Moreover, particularly pre-teens and teens feel as if they are caught in the middle. When mom and dad are actively fighting on a regular basis, collateral damage can occur in the way of stress, poor schoolwork, and attention seeking behaviors. We are finding out that kids would sometimes rather have a plan going forward rather than uncertainty, and ideally, have two happy households to go to rather than one miserable one.
Parents who are contemplating a divorce need to take the path which is best for them, which in turn may be best for the kids. This answer is not the same for every person. Waiting may be the best option, and it may not. Talking to a mental health professional who has experience with children of divorce can be instrumental in timing the decision.