Why My Divorce was Positive for My Kids

When my first husband and I separated for the second, and final, time my oldest son was just 7-years-old. My daughter was too young to remember (being 15 months at the time) and this was long before my younger son came along. Our relationship hovered in a state of unrest for two years until we finally decided to make it official. My son had a lot of questions about the divorce–does this mean you don’t love daddy? Will I ever see daddy again? Will you and daddy be friends? I answered his questions honestly and let him know that no matter what, he did not do anything to cause this. I encouraged him to look at the brighter side and told him that the divorce would never change how we felt about him.

Keep reading for the ways I helped my son cope with my divorce.

I showed him why the divorce was not his fault. It is natural for kids to think they must have done something to cause the break-up. The first thing I did was to explain to him the reasons why my marriage to his father was ending. I was honest about it (age appropriate of course) and I also told him how I felt about it. I related my feelings to situations he experienced where he was disappointed, sad, mad, etc. and gave him real examples of the behavior that his dad and I were exhibiting which proved that we needed to be apart. Each example demonstrated to him that it was never his fault or anything that he did to cause the situation.

I showed him what was positive about the divorce. Positive? Yes, that’s right–the divorce had many positives and I made sure he knew exactly what they were. I explained to him how his dad and I had grown apart and wanted to do different things. Because of this, we were mad at each other much of the time. He remembered all the arguments and times where his dad was sleeping on the couch. He could feel the tension between us and I explained to him that he no longer had to live in an environment full of anger and resentment. We could now focus on moving our family forward without all the negativity. A few months after we moved out, my son came to me and said “mommy, I am so happy that you are happy now.” This only reinforced that I did the right thing.

I showed him that the divorce would never change how much we love him. I was very concerned about making sure that my son knew how much he was loved. I never wanted him to feel as though the divorce took that away from him. Although his dad was no longer living with us, they maintained regular visits and talked on the phone every day. I continually talked with him about how much we loved him and made sure that he knew he could always count on both of us; whether we were together or not. My ex-husband and I have done a great job of co-parenting our kids and ensuring that they have a constant presence of both their mother and father in their lives. This is one thing that has never been up for debate: the children always come first no matter what.

Although my daughter was very young during the break-up, and has no memory of us being together, she still asked a lot of questions when she was old enough to understand that we used to be a two-parent household. As with my son, I answered her questions honestly and told her that it was never anything her or her brother caused; it was simply a case of two people who no longer worked together towards the same goals, and were happier apart than we were together. When she was about 8-years-old she said to me: “I’m so lucky. I never had to live with parents who were fighting or mad all the time. I’ve only known a happy mom. I’m thankful for that.”

Deciding to get a divorce is never an easy decision. It is one that I struggled with for two years before choosing to make the separation permanent and end my marriage. There are many resources available to help parents work through the fall-out from separation and divorce; to support your children and ensure they remain the priority. The most critical things are making sure they know: 1) the divorce is not their fault, 2) they will always be loved, and 3) happiness lies on the other side.

Comments 8

  1. My parents divorced when I was three, so I don’t remember it. It was positive for them and for me, not because I got to me on both sides of the Sega Genesis-Super Nintendo war of the early ’90s. People shouldn’t stay together because of a child anymore.

  2. Divorce is hard, especially with children. Children usually adjust well as long as the parents don’t use them as a means to get back at the other parent. They love both of their parents and don’t need to hear bad things about either of them. It sounds like you did a great job. Thank you for sharing

  3. Its great that you mentioned co-parenting which can be challenging after a separation. Kudos to you for figuring out a plan that works for you and your family.

  4. You are right that children must be reminded they are loved and the divorce is not their fault. It is wise to reinforce positive aspects of the divorce such as no more arguing in the house.

  5. I had wished things went that easy when I was a child but different times.. I am glad though you was able to get through it and your child with talking and love.. thanks for sharing this with us, so many have to face what you have already faced… how sad 🙁

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  7. Dear Carin,

    As a divorced mother myself, thank you for being so open and sharing your feelings about this subject. It’s more than refreshing!

    There often are many positive sides to a divorce and it can lead to a better life for both the parent who stays with the children and the children themselves.

    My children were quite young when their father and I got divorced after 16 years of marriage, and I did my very best to make it as positive as an experience as possible.

    It turns out that my children’s father actually stole money entrusted to him by his grandparents’ estate without my knowledge.(which of course created havoc within the entire family). Naturally, there were many other things during a 16 year marriage that led to the divorce, but his theft of the money made me realize that I did not want my children growing up with a person of questionable character.

    In later years, (he is an attorney) he lost his law license for stealing money from his client’s trust account and there were multiple other issues in his life which helped me know I made the right choice to leave him.

    I was able to grow and learn so much more during the years following the divorce and it was my sincerest hope that my children would wait until they were in their 30’s and really know as much as possible about their partner before choosing to marry.

    What happened is that of the two children, one is very happily married and has children of her own. The other has lived with a partner for several years now and I anticipate a good marriage between them at some point in the future, because both of them are remarkable human beings and good role models for anyone.

    The most important lesson learned is that there are times when divorce can be very positive. In my case, any child psychologist will tell you that it’s not a healthy thing to see children grow up with constant tension in the home, and seeing a father (who could have been a role model but thank goodness was not), do things that were wrong and actually illegal.

    The partners my children have chosen to be with are precisely the opposite of their father: high integrity, value family over everything else, very loving, nurturing, deeply committed to the relationship and they participate in every aspect of the relationship. My daughter’s husband does things with and for his children that her own father certainly never did.

    So, while I’m aware that divorce is not always the ideal situation in life, it can allow kids to grow up with at least one parent who can role model the qualities they want to impart to their children. I’m deeply grateful that my children have those good qualities in themselves and each of them found partners who have them as well.

    Were I to have chosen not to divorce, my children would have grown up seeing a very painful and unhappy marriage and had a father role model who could have forever damaged their character and I thank God that did not happen.

    Again Carin – thank you. You’ve brought a difficult subject into the light and while everyone will have an opinion, if you can look at your children and see they are loving, caring, honest and happy people, doing good things in the world, then that is the positive side of a divorce that needed to happen.

    1. Post

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your story – it’s wonderful to know that, while a hard decision that no married person enters into the union expecting will happen, divorce can be positive and lead to a better life for our children.

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