Every child's nightmare is facing the reality of divorce. A growing number of divorce families are experiencing tremendous turmoil. When a couple decides to separate after a number of years and a few kids, more often than not the separation is not easy.
Most adults who are faced with divorce and separation hope for an amicable and equitable resolution of their conflicts. Unfortunately, more and more couples are finding their divorce proceedings similar to a world war. Little in life prepares you for the mental, emotional and spiritual drain. Too often, although not intended, the children are caught in the middle.
The psychological games the parents play with their children, consciously and unconsciously, are potentially lethal. Children of any age should not be blackmailed to make certain choices as they relate to parental connections or relationships. Children should not be forced to choose or feel manipulated in their decision by either parent.
Short of a parent being psychotic or suspected of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, parents should not attempt to poison their children. Divorce is never easy. It wounds and unfortunately, at times destroys many people involved. The scars that are left sometimes take years to heal. As adults, we should work ceaselessly not to scar our children.
Too often, finance, visitation and the reasons for divorce become paralyzing. They blind us to the well being of our children. Although by nature most children are resilient, they are not beyond being emotionally and psychologically damaged. At times, as parents we do not see the harm we are inflicting. We are fixated on our own pain and hurt. Meanwhile, our children are bleeding on the inside.
The court system, which is the unfortunate tool to be used when adults cannot resolve their differences, oftentimes inflames the conflict rather than facilitating a resolution. The courts are not trained to know the best interest of the children involved. More often than not, they inflame an already volatile circumstance. Thus, intervention does not ease the stress of the children involved. Many times it makes it worse.
The ideal mechanism would be mediation. Unfortunately, the pain and hurt are so out of control it is hard to get people to sit down and honestly speak about mediation and fair resolution, especially when children and money are involved.
QJ is a twenty-one year old college student. He is the youngest of four children. All of his older siblings are successful college graduates. QJ grew up in an intact home until his senior year in high school. His parents are both well-educated professionals who work in the area of human services. Together they provided an extraordinary income that allowed them to live a very comfortable, upper-middle class life.
Before the divorce, their children wanted for nothing. To the outside world, they were the model family. They were in Church as a family every Sunday. They went on family vacations. They ate dinner as a family every night. They seemed to be a modern version of "Leave It To Beaver."
After twenty-five years of what seemed to be a marriage made in paradise, life started to unravel. Parental fighting was escalating. There were allegations of marital infidelity. Tension, anger and hostile emotion were rampant. After months of escalating hostility, both parents agreed to counseling. That process was short lived because one parent had already emotionally left the marriage. Thus counseling became an exercise in futility.
As the months passed, more and more information surfaced. The once perfect family was never really perfect. Like a lot of families, there were lots of secrets that were buried in family history. Seemingly Mom and Dad had serious problems twenty years before. They went to counseling briefly without any significant change. However, they had four small children and for their sakes attempted to manage. They did that for almost twenty-five years.
Unfortunately, as the children got older and left the nest, the tension and emotional abuse intensified. QJ's mother could not take it and filed for divorce.
The only child really affected by the divorce was QJ. When his parents separated, he was beginning college. Since his Dad was very successful and commanded a good salary, child support was substantial. However, Mom used that money to buy a house and really did not assist QJ with any of his financial obligations.
QJ went away to school, although his Dad objected. He thought a geographical change would fix things. After one semester, QJ crashed. He came home and things were worse than ever.
Dad was really pressuring QJ to live with him. If he did, his mother would lose child support and possibly lose her house. Dad offered to cover all of QJ's school costs as well as support his car. Mom turned up the guilt and made QJ feel like he was betraying her.
With great apprehension, he moved back with his Mom. However, not only did she emotionally blackmail him, she verbally harassed him to the point that he developed anxiety attacks. He was determined not to get buried under Mom's need to control and get at his father.
Over the past three years, not much has changed. Mom continues to emotionally assault and manipulate QJ and Dad continues to bribe his son with all kinds of appealing opportunities, but always with strings attached.
In May QJ graduates from a university and is petrified. He does not have the material or emotional resources to move out on his own. Dad has offered him hospitality as a way of getting started with his career. Mom has threatened to disown him if he accepts his Dad's offer.
QJ feels trapped, and he is. Hopefully, through his counseling (that he finally began) he will feel empowered enough to do what is best for him and not be shackled by his parents guilt, shame, blame and manipulation. We can only hope for his freedom!