Written by Cathy Meyer
The internet is filled with articles about helping children adjust to divorce. If you’ve been through divorce I’m sure you’ve probably read some of those same articles in an attempt to help you help your own child adjust.
Indeed, many people put a lot of thought and consideration into how children are feeling and dealing once the decision to divorce is made. The decision to divorce is not something our children participate in though. There is no consideration given to their opinion or needs when it comes to whether or not to split the family up.
I find it interesting that the ones who will be impacted the most have no say in the decision making process. Divorce laws do not take into consideration the opinions of children either. Parents seem to believe that their relationship and whether it continues is separate from their relationship with their children. Parents fail to understand that their relationship encompasses their children, and is in fact the very foundation of their children’s security.
So, why is it children don’t get a vote when the decision to divorce is being discussed or decided? Should a mother who is no longer “happy” have the right to leave her marriage, pursue her happiness at the expensive of her children’s well-being without first being required to take into consideration her children’s happiness?
Does it not make sense that the most important product of a marriage –children — have no legal rights? And that no law gives them any power or say so whatsoever when it comes to whether or not their family remains intact or not?
Consider these actual responses by teenagers when asked about divorce before you form an opinion on the subject and then share your opinion on the subject.
Why don’t parents ask the kids?
“Because they don’t care about their opinion, or it doesn’t effect their progress on working on their problems. Parents can get away with divorce. Kids can’t get away with anything.”
Why do parents divorce?
“Because when you give them the ability to divorce they just abuse it.”
Don’t parents care?
“If the parents say ‘We want to get a divorce.’ And the kids say ‘We shall be sad.’ The parents don’t say ‘O.K., we’ll stay together.’ That never happens. That’s what comedians are.”
How did your parents divorce make you feel?
“Like I have no effect. Like I’m a bystander. Like they know how I feel, but they don’t care.”
How do you feel about your parents?
“My opinion is lower because I thought they would be more mature and solve their problems. They didn’t even ask what it would do to me.”
What do you think parents need to know?
“I just think they deserve to suffer a lot just to know what it’s like.”
- Do you feel a child’s opinion should be considered when deciding to divorce?
- How would your child answer the above questions?
Good article. Not only do children not get a voice, they are not even supposed to be told the truth about why the parents divorced. The required parenting classes instruct parents to tell kids something along the lines of “Mommy and Daddy both love you very much, but we just decided that we don’t love each other any more and don’t want to live together.” This is despite the fact that 80% of divorces are unilateral and the most common reason for divorce is infidelity by either the plaintiff or the defendant — so the politically-correct phasing is almost certainly a lie. Of course parents should show respect to each other in front of the children and not alienate the children from the other parent — but they should show respect to teenage children as well by giving them honest answers to their questions. I’m not sure if the shared-parenting classes are to really help the children or to help the divorce plaintiff feel less guilty.
I agree with this quote “I find it interesting that the ones who will be impacted the most have no say in the decision making process.”
It’s so true that our children are not getting a chance to voice their opinion as they are most important. Parents should try all options to stay together and make it work for the children at the very least.
Great article and I hope more read it.