Child of Divorce

7 Nov

Letterbalm Mother and ChildDear LetterBalm: After only five years of marriage, my husband told me that he wanted a divorce. He said he wasn’t involved with anyone, but that he never should have married me. He told me that he didn’t love me enough to stay together, even for the sake of our young daughter. I’m hurt and devastated, but my main concern is for my daughter. I know it is in the hands of my husband and me to define our divorce, whether for good or ill, in the mind of our child as she gets older. How can I make my husband understand how important this is?

–Headed To Divorce

It’s commendable in the midst of your pain you’re thinking of your daughter. Yes, her attitude towards relationships can certainly be colored by the way she perceives her parents treating each other and treating her. She (and you) will need counseling down the road. Your and your husband should strive to present a calm, respectful, reassuring front that doesn’t demean the other in her presence. She should always know that neither of you will stop loving her, nor will you leave her. Ms. L.B. recommends that you e-mail or write your husband about your concerns. Otherwise, if you and he are on cordial terms, ask him to meet you for coffee and tell him this:

Harry, I wanted to talk with you about Violet. It’s good that we’re trying to work out custody arrangements without anger. You’re a concerned dad who wants to be in her life, and that’s very important. It’s crucial that you and I be calm and respectful, that we don’t badmouth each other in front of her. We have to reassure Violet that it’s not her fault, that you and I will always respect each other and that grownups sometimes have to live apart. We have to make her feel loved and safe because how she views relationships later on will have a lot to do with how well we handle the divorce and custody. What are your thoughts on all this? Can we agree on a few ground rules?

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