For whatever reason, your relationship ends. It really doesn’t matter why. All of sudden, your life is consumed with dividing belongings and packing boxes. Friends and family have to be told. Maybe the breakup is filled with anger. Maybe it’s amicable. But, no matter how it’s done, changes start to happen.
Now, imagine that you’re eight years old and these are your parents. Your entire world is going to be different now. Your parents aren’t going to be living in the same house any more. You’re going to be sent from house to house, depending on the weekend or holiday. Some of your stuff is going to be one place. Some of it another. Maybe if you’d only been a better child things would be different.
Whenever parents split up, kids often blame themselves. And, if the parents are fighting, it’s even worse. We adults think we’re so smart. We fight after the kids go to bed. Or, we close our bedroom door and speak in hushed tones. But, kids know. They see the harsh glances. They wake up when voices get loud. The sense that something isn’t right. And, they worry.
Those feelings can continue when one parent moves out. The arguments are different, but they are still there. How dare you have a date sleep over when our child is at your house? You didn’t send the child support this week. You were ten minutes late bringing Billy home. You were supposed to help Sarah get her homework done. I want the kids for the holiday. And, on and on it goes.
It seems ridiculous to me that we go from a time when we can’t imagine living without someone to a time when we can’t imagine living with someone. We love each other so much we want to make a family and then we are at a place where we can’t even put the family first.
It happens. Relationships break up. It’s sad and it’s difficult, but it happens. But, there is no reason to make it worse on the children. Children didn’t cause the problems. And, it’s our job as adults to do our best to ease the pain.
Remember that no matter how difficult a breakup is, it is even more difficult for the children in your family. Talk to them. Explain things. Don’t use them as pawns to keep your ex on the hook. And, above all else, remember that they are scared of the changes in their lives. And, you are the one to make it better.