The Child's Perspective on Divorce

Sometimes it can be beneficial to look at things through" the eyes of a child". This helps to give the parent some perspective on how the child sees things. Let’s look at a scenario concerning how one child perceives different aspects of a divorce.

A mother has a son who is very young. Her son has been talking about being afraid of hearing ghosts on frequent occasions. Not only is the child talking about hearing ghosts all the time but he is also following her around asking why daddy isn't here to scare the ghosts away. This concerned the mother very much because the recent divorce is troubling the child. The woman didn't know what to do.

It is very easy to become concerned about this child's behavior. It also became evident to the mother that when the little boy was worrying about something other than the divorce, it really meant that he was having some problems with the divorce. He just didn't know how to express himself any other way.

Young children are aware of the changes that are taking place between their two parents and how they react to each other. They also see how these changes are affecting their own environment and lifestyle. Some parents get divorced when the children are at a very young age. While the children don't have many memories of the separation, they do know how they feel now. When asked to describe the most disturbing part about their parents being divorced, most children say that they don't get to see enough of the parent that they don't live with. This is a perfectly logical answer; every child wants to be with both of their parents.

Here are some comments that children (five to 15 years of age)  gave when asked about their feelings on divorce: 

  • "No one could make all of this go away."
  • "Why doesn't my mommy want to be here with all of us?"
  • "I don't understand why I go to my daddy's on the weekends."
  • "I can't remember ever seeing my parents together."
  • "I remember always feeling as though it was all my fault, and I would cry myself to sleep a lot."
  • "I think they still hate each other."
  • "My parents have always been fair with me. Even though they were divorced, they were both always there for me. I love them for that."
  • "I have grown up to be a very secure person. Both of my parents have always been there for me, and they both make time to talk to me together if that is what I need."

Children are honest in what they see and experience, and they are able to describe how they perceive what is going on around them. Initially children do wish that their parents were still together, but as the years pass they come to the realization that their parents got the divorce and why. Remember, it is healthier for the child to grow up in a single-parent family with little or no tension than it is for a child to be a part of a family unit that is in constant tension. At a young age children want for their parents to be together, but as children grow up, honesty and openness on the part of both parents can create a healthy environment for the child to grow up in.