The Blindside of Divorce
If you’ve ever been a Survivor fan, you know all about The Blindside. A tribe within a tribe promises to be each other’s ride-or-die, playing idols for one another and cheering the other on in the immunity challenge. And then it happens. One loyal tribesman (or five) blindside the strong, trusting, unsuspecting member who thought the blindside would never happen to him.
Although Survivor is a “reality” show, it is still a game that adults sign up to play knowing the risks and the rewards. In real life, however, kids often find themselves in a similar blindside scenario when mom and dad announce they are getting a divorce. Some teens come into my office with anxiety for which there is no apparent “source”. We eventually uncover that they haven’t processed the loss of their family and are stuck on understanding why mom and dad divorced in the first place. Generally, these kids are not looking for a drama-filled explanation. They are looking for help navigating relationships with mom and dad as singles, dispensing with the guilt they feel, figuring out who to trust, or simply finding that feeling of safety they had prior to the divorce. The kids often know the household dynamics weren’t ideal prior to the split, but the familiarity was still a comfort. Kids frequently report there was no fighting between parents, so when they received the news and little information to support the decision, they felt confused, sad, angry, and unsafe. When the shock subsides, they realize they have questions they never asked.
It is understandable that in the midst of ending a marriage, parents can be lost and confused as well. It may take time for everyone to settle down to a point where discussion with the kids will yield emotional fruit, but a discussion should take place. Let your children know that what has happened between mom and dad does not affect your love for them. This is something that needs to be reinforced with behavior. Allow your kids to voice their emotions and ask questions without taking it personally. Not all information is child-appropriate, but as adults we need to find a way to provide enough answers to let the healing begin for our children. If your family is having trouble with this process, I’d love to help. Please contact me to schedule an appointment. (614) 505-4015 or www.powellfamilycounseling.com