Mum, Dad, we are still hurting from your divorce
We are three siblings who enjoy reading your column and are all based in the US. We sincerely hope you will be able to publish our letter. It might be too late for us, but we might save a marriage or two for the sake of the children.
We have noted that in the past few weeks, the media have been bombarded with cases of separations/divorce all talking about money and not the affected children. As children of divorcees, below is a letter we recently wrote to our parents.
Dear Dad & Mum,
We are 34, 38 & 41 years old, and still feel the consequences of your divorce when we were 6, 12 & 14 years old, respectively. To outside observers, we were no different than the children of intact families, but that wasn’t really the case.
When Mum came home we gauged her mood. When we stayed at Dad’s we were often quiet and on good behaviour. We paid close attention to the different rules at your different homes and the conflicts in your expectations of us. We struggled to remember what we were not supposed to say, and what secrets or information about one parent we should not share with the other. We adjusted ourselves to each of you, shaping our habits and beliefs to mimic yours when we were around you.
We had to learn how the rules in one house were so different than the other and try and reconcile these in a way that we would not let you down. We often felt like different people with each of you. This made us grow up too soon; we were like little adults.
By divorcing, you made our lives harder. Imagine this, how would you want to go to a different home every few days because it suits someone else’s schedule? How would you like to remember at which house you left your wallet, your laptop, your workout bag, your briefcase? How about sleeping in a different bed and using a different toothbrush every other day, how would that make you feel?
Birthdays, school visits, holidays, graduations and weddings were dreaded, because that meant only one of you could take pictures, only one parent could attend. Which meant that one very sad parent got left out.
What we hated hearing most was “It’s either me at your graduation or your mum/dad, you can’t have us both there”.
Though the custody sharing days were clear, you made us choose where we wanted to be, especially during holidays. As fate would have it, when you both got sick at the same time a few years ago, you had to go and live with one of us who had not relocated, but again, you made her choose.
Why couldn’t you just choose to stay together? Why did you reverse your role as parents with us. We became the worried ones, the ones wanting to make sure you were both happy. Now older, and making more independent decisions, things have not changed much, choosing where to spend the holidays is always a source of anxiety and pressure.
Some of the worst feelings in the world we can ever remember were when, out of nowhere, you dad brought our step mum into our lives and told us she makes you happy, our world fell apart. And you sincerely thought that at 6, 12 & 14 years old, we cared about your happiness? It was very hard to understand why a new woman was now sleeping on the side of mum’s bed or why there was a new person in the kitchen.
It was the loss of two full time parents and the sadness we felt around friends from intact families. Our common family friends disappeared, invitations to events dwindled and we became society’s outcasts.
The joy and pain of leaving in two extreme worlds was confusing. While dad seemed to have moved on, was extremely wealthy and lived large, mum was struggling emotionally and financially