In the many years I have been doing divorce law, I have never had the opportunity to sit down with a child, a young man or young women, whose parents are divorced and discuss how it affects him or her. I had the unique opportunity of having such a discussion with such a young man as we sat waiting to deal with the young man's summary appeal.
I started the conversation off with the perfunctory "how are things going?" and he gave me the obligatory adolescent-"they're cool". Knowing that the parents are divorced, I asked him who he lived with. His answer, with a smirk, was "both of them". You could tell he loved them both, but the whole aspect of living with both was not all that cool (reason for the smirk). "You know... I deal with it. Got use to it after a while. In the beginning, forgetting this or that at ones house sucked, but, hey, there's nothing I can do about it". Then he said something unexpected, but totally enlightening as to a question he may have asked himself in the past, but-in his own mind has totally answered.- "I know one thing...I didn't do anything to cause it." Maybe I was surprised because I never expected for that to even be a question in this young man's mind, or others, but it obviously was to him.
My response to him was quick. "You know, almost 30 years doing this, I can honestly say-I have never found it (the divorce) to be the kids' fault." In fact, I told him. I have seen kids keep the parents together, and the family unit, longer, because of the kids. The young man smiled and said "me too."
The shame of it is that studies have shown that the younger the kids are when the divorce occurs the more emotionally affected they will be. Unlike this young gentleman, many children do blame themselves for the divorce. The further shame of it is that many divorced parents ignore this emotional scarring, caring more about how their life is going.
In essence, divorce parents should be cognizant of this potential question in their children's mind and ask them how they feel. I'm no psychiatrist, but I do know this-asking and finding out is better than not asking and allowing this issue to have long lasting negative affects on the child. Bottom line-it's not the kids' fault!
If you have questions or need legal advice regarding a divorce, please contact my Pittsburgh law office, Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates.