When I was 6 years old my parents got me and my brother together and told us they were getting a divorce. I can’t say I remember much of the details but it is an event that shaped my life. My parents went separate ways and my father took custody of my brother and me. While I maintain relatively good contact with my mother with letters and some phone calls my brother really shut down and didn’t talk to her as much. He was older so maybe he was a bit more aware of the change and I was just too young to even get upset. But the thing that lasted was that we both had issues with women. I didn’t date at all and my brother was often overly attached to girls in high school. And like our father his first marriage came at a young age and failed several years later and just like my brother I married young and then divorce several years later. This wasn’t something just by coincidence. It came from the relationship our parents had with us. In our cases we both had attachment issue with women. We worshiped them just long enough so we could blame them later when we failed. It was both cruel to them and to us. So as I look at my two young girls and I wonder how can I stop the chain it’s pretty simple. Support them. Let them know that they are more than the circumstances that surround them. They are in control of their emotions and they control the rise and fall of their mood. I recently enrolled them in summer ballet and it makes a difference.
Getting kids involved in something they enjoy builds self image and lets them focus their energy into an activity, even if it is for an hour, that brings them some joy, some escape. And it increases their chances that they will be socially healthy and not cling to the first guy that comes their way. We have to be role model for this as well. Even when I get angry at their mother I have to remind myself that she gave them to me. And they look to us for support and if I act disrespectful to her in any way it reflects on them and they begin to doubt themselves and the family they came from. And going through a broken home myself it’s not how I want to raise my children.
And though not every child goes through a divorce every child does look to the relationship of their parent for cues as to how to relate with other people. So be respectful. Don’t make condesending jokes, don’t lie, or stay out late and make people worry. Show your kids what it takes to be an adult and it’s likely to come back in a big way when they are grown up and maybe they’ll even thank you for it.