Three Struggles with Two Homes

Kids with separated or divorced parents feel differently about their parents’ conflict than kids whose parents fight but stay together. For starters, kids of divorce know full well the destruction that conflict causes in their family (after all, it destroyed their parents’ marriage), so they tend to be hypersensitive to divorce conflict and worry and wonder how much worse life will get if it continues.
Secondly, they have a difficult time not taking sides when it is painfully clear that their parents live two separate lives, in two separate homes, and those homes are almost always very different from one another. It’s a constant physical reminder that their world is separated into two parts. And young children, especially, are prone to dividing the world into good and bad anyway, so they really struggle with understanding how both homes/parents can be right (and no one is wrong).
Finally, all they have to do is look in the mirror and see that they are the only thing their parents have in common. That’s a lot of pressure to be the reason their parents get along – and not the reason they fight. British poet Wilson Shire said it best about a child of divorce looking in the mirror. “I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together.”

 

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