Victim Without a Voice
Access to the Internet is almost like being in a genuine library. I was doing some research a few days ago and stumbled onto an article that first caught my attention. Then secondly, it took me to a place of sad reflection of reality.
When divorces occur, everybody has a voice Ö but the children. The husband and his attorney, the wife and her attorney, the court, the bank, the girlfriend, the boyfriend, every adult involved. Children are victims without a voice. It has often been observed, that for the children, a divorce is worse than the death of a parent.
After working with hundreds of families, author Tara Kennedy-Kline published the results of simply listening to children from broken homes; giving them a voice. What is it like for the children? Here are some excerpts from the piece (documented below). The top twelve things kids say about divorce. (Iíve used edited terms to avoid crude language)
1. You got divorced, not me. I know you hate everything about "your ex", but your ex is still my other parent, and I still love both of you. Please stop talking badly about each other to me or in front of me; it just makes me disrespect you. Don't gossip with your friends and family about them when Iím around. It makes me feel [bad] and you look like a jerk.
2. I really don't care which one of you gets the car, the timeshare, or Nana's ashtray collection, so stop telling me about how [angry] you are about it and how you feel it's "unfair.Ē When you start putting all your energy into material things, you make me think that's all you care about. Honestly, you should be more angry about losing our family than you are about losing your gym membership.
3. I trust you to protect me from bullies or people who would hurt me. I may
need you to shield me right now from the stupid things other people say to
me. I don't have all the right answers, and my feelings get hurt really
easily, so please stand up for me. Also, it's not ok to let your newest
"squeeze" discipline me. They don't know me well enough to scold or even
correct me. They have no idea what I am going through, and I lose trust for
you when you let them push me around or hurt me -- even if it's
4. When you're talking to each other about visitation, please don't talk about me like a project that needs to be "managed.Ē If it's your weekend to spend time with me, consider the fact that I may really be excited to spend time with you before you let me overhear you say things like, "I have a date. Can't you just keep her and I'll cover your weekend?" And when it comes to big events, keep in mind that I have family that I love on both sides. So how about instead of letting a judge decide who I get to see on the holidays -- ask me what I want.
5. Don't use your failed marriage and bitterness toward the opposite sex as your reference when you lecture me about my friendships and relationships. I'm too young to bear your wounds. My friends are my escape from all the stress your divorce is creating, so you may want to not talk badly about them right now, that will just make me rebel against you more.
6. When you start dating again, don't assume that I am going to love every person you bring home. I have my own opinions, and just because you like them doesn't mean I'm going to automatically hit it off with someone you're dating. Remember, you have a different set of criteria for this relationship than I do. Your new "friend" is not my friend, so maybe I donít want to be nice to them. As a matter of fact, I might fight with them on purpose because I want you take sides -- my side. If I'm getting upset please remember that I may be a kid, but I still have feelings. It might be time for us to spend some quality time together -- just us.
7. Don't insult or make fun of the gifts and things I receive from my other parent or the experiences I have with them and their family. This isn't about you. If you're jealous, then say that. But insulting the things I like, enjoy and am proud of just because they came from my other parent, only makes you look like a huge, petty brat. It also makes me think twice about sharing new things with you.
8. Quit telling me I'm "being dramatic" about what's happening. Don't dismiss my emotions. I'm allowed to be sad/angry/disappointed/depressed over the divorce of my parents. The family I knew for the whole of my life is ending, and I am scared to death. And from my perspective, you simply stopped loving someone who made you angry, so how long will it be before I do something to make you stop loving me? And on that note, now that I have realized your love has limits, be prepared for me to test those limits almost daily.
9. I would really appreciate it if the two of you could stop acting like children and come up with a plan that allows you to be in the same space at the same time without being mean to each other. For example: my birthday, sports events, recitals, concerts, and basically any time my other family, friends, coaches or teachers are around. If you could manage to put your own selfish [stuff] aside and be civil with each other every once in a while, that would be great for everyone.
10. Please get on the same page when it comes to values, rules and discipline. When -- out of spite for each other -- you let me get away with stuff that even I know is wrong, you confuse and frustrate me. You teach me how to manipulate people and pit you against each other to get what I want. It is then that I stop taking either of you seriously. Just because you stopped being married, doesn't mean you stopped being parents. I need you to teach me how to resolve conflict, not create it.
11. Please recognize that there are some things that my other parent is better at than you Ö and that's OK! I won't think less of you if you let Dad teach me how to catch a ball or Mom show me how to drive. I need to learn from both of you. When you take those experiences away, I can see right through you. I know you want to be able to do this whole parenting thing on your own, but I don't want you to! I like making both my parents happy. I love seeing you smile when I do something you've taught me, and it makes me very happy when you compliment each other by saying things like, "You should ask your (other parent), they're really good at that." When you allow me to learn from and value both of my parents, that teaches me to appreciate the gifts in others and to ask for help when I need it.
12. When I do something to make you mad, don't compare me to the person you
divorced. "You're a slob just like your father!" or "You whine and complain
like your mother!" are statements that insult me, not the person you
divorced. Remember, you left that person. You removed them from your life
because of the very things you are identifying in me. Saying that you see
things in me that make you think of the things you despise in them makes me
feel unlovable and self-conscious -- and it destroys my already damaged
self-esteem. If you want me to clean up after myself or speak more
respectfully, then show me how, or make a rule, or talk about it. Just stop
putting in my head that my actions are just as offensive to you as the
person you divorced.
Source: Kids and Divorce; Huffington Post; 4-20-2004