Billy’s parents are divorcing. Billy is 7 years old and he
is worried that he will never see his father again. Harper’s parents are
divorcing. She is 19 years old and Harper is worried that her parents will no
longer be able to pay for her college. Jim’s parents are divorcing. Jim is 10
years old. Jim is worried that he will be separated from his dog half the time.
Madelyn’s parents are divorcing. She is 13 years old. Madelyn is worried that
they will have to move, and she will lose all of her friends in her
neighborhood. Christopher is 15 years old and his parents are divorcing.
Christopher is anxious because his Mom is crying a lot and is telling him all
about his father’s affairs. Christopher
does not want to be in the middle of the divorce.
None of these children have voiced these concerns to their
parents. No one has asked these children their concerns. All of their parents
would be interested in these concerns, but they are not at their best. Some of
the parents are still reeling from their own worries and concerns associated
with the divorce. Some of them think that it is best to not discuss anything
about the divorce as a way of protecting the children.
There is a constructive way to help these children in the
divorce to have a voice and to educate these children on the process and the
options and possible ways to meet their concerns without over empowering
them. In Collaborative Divorce cases we
can have a child specialist (mental health professional with collaborative training)
included on the team. The child specialist can meet with the children, even
adult children, and help them become educated about how divorce works, how not
to triangulate the family, how to have their worries addressed. The child
specialist can report back to the parents in a constructive way to help the
parents understand the concerns of the children.
We need to protect the children (particularly during
divorce) and that includes allowing them
to have a voice.