The recent public display of acrimony between Christie Brinkley and ex husband Peter Cook reminds us of what goes wrong with divorce.
How does it affect their two teenage children?
1. When you criticize your child’s parent, you criticize her DNA. Our children rightfully feel that they are drawn on both of their parents. If a child hears something negative about her parent, she identifies herself in the same negative way. After all, parents and children are one and the same.
2. Adolescence is an unstable time. A teen is already trying to manage hormonal and physical changes. Add parents who are publicly spiteful and it will be overloading for any teen.
3. Teens are supposed to be falling in love. They are getting ready for that age of innocence, whisperings of love and partnering with member of the opposite sex. What a severe disturbance to this natural process when they see their once in love parents publicly humiliating each other and their children in the meantime. It makes a teen distrust love and intimacy.
4. Kids of divorce crave privacy. They feel a bit ashamed that their family may be seen as “broken” and unfixable. This causes too many children to never discuss their issues with anyone, even friends, for fear of being seen as “other” or sick. Imagine having all of the dirty family laundry let out for all to see and wondering if kids at school are whispering behind their backs about their family’s divorce.
5. Kids of divorce must have a place to express. Healing comes through loving connections and the ability to express our feelings. When a child hears her parent insult the other parent, that child loses her faith in confiding with that parent. That child now fears that sharing her issues will incite an explosion or worse yet, the parent will betray the confidence and speak about it publicly. Therefore, that child sadly loses her ability to express to the two most important people in her life. When a child can’t express herself in a healthy way she’ll either have to swallow her pain, which often leads to depression or suicidal thoughts, or numb her pain through use of drugs and alcohol.
Please, let’s all take note and give your children the confidence that although perhaps your marriage did not work, your life as parents must stay secure. Your children’s lives really do depend on it.