Monday, December 1, 2008

Divorce

Here's what the boys know about marriage:
-When men and women fall in love, they get married.
-Then they have babies.
-Or adopt.

It won't be long until they need more information.

Visiting the various family members this weekend was almost the first step in their learning about how broken their extended family is. We were playing outside at Granny's house yesterday, and they almost opened a can of worms when my six-year-old half-brother (their "uncle" - weird, right?) was explaining that there is a swimming pool at his mommy's house but not at his daddy's house. Bobcat looked really confused - why would there be two houses? So I quickly changed the subject. It hasn't come up since, but I'm trying to get myself ready for the explanations they'll need.

So, how do I explain this to our children? I don't want to sound too judgmental. I hate that word - judgmental. I am judgmental (if I'm anything!) After all, it's my right and duty as a parent to make judgments. Rather, I should say, I don't want to be too harsh. I don't want to make them angry with anyone. But, I'm not going to say, "It was nobody's fault, these things just happen." Because that's (expletive deleted) simply untrue. There is always fault. I have my theories. I'm not going to share the ugly details with the children, but I will obviously have to explain to them that divorce is wrong. I'm sorry, mom and dad, if the kids are shocked by your repeated failures. I'm not going to make excuses for you. It will be hard to hide my anger and digust as I see the disappointment on their little faces. But I have to explain to them that OUR marriage is secure because it is built on our faith. They need to know the difference, and to know what makes a good marriage, so that they will trust in their parents and feel safe.

I really think boys are more clueless about this stuff than girls. I know I was pretty naive and only learned anything from my sister when we were younger. But I could be wrong. Maybe they know more than I think they do, but don't want to ask. No, I really do think they would ask about it if they had a question. I've planned to not say anything unless/until they bring it up. It'll click sooner or later.

I had thought for a long time, that if they ever ask why Grandma and Grandpa divorced, I would just say, "I really don't know. You'll have to ask them yourself." I'm sure they would do a decent job of keeping the message age-appropriate. But, I don't want them making those excuses I mentioned earlier, however subtly. And I don't want my parents to feel ambushed by curious kids. They deserve their privacy, I guess.

I suppose for now the answer is, "You're not old enough to have that information. We'll talk about it more when you grow up. All you need to know today is that everyone in our family loves you, and that Mommy and Daddy will never let our family be broken."

(sigh...)

Can you tell that I'm totally over it? It didn't bother me much for a few years, until we had children of our own. Parenting definitely forces you to re-address the things you thought you had put away for good. Frankly I'm angry that I'll have so much to explain one day, maybe sooner than later. They've had enough pain in their young lives, and will have to deal with issues from their birth parents. That's more than enough pain for a sweet little boy. It sure would have been nice if our families were models of normalcy. Oh well, here we are. Again, just remember that there are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.

5 comments:

nicole said...

You know, kids are funny in what they just accept with simple answers. My kids have never once questioned why my oldest nephew is sometimes not with us because he is at his Dad's house. I suppose one day they will be more curious, but for now they are not. Now, with Jason and Kelly going through a divorce, we might be faced with more direct questions. Right now they know Jason lives in SA, but that is all. I'm not looking forward to having to explain things. But this is life and it is better for them to get their answers from us than others.

La Familia said...

Yeah, I sort of know what you mean. Pigeon wanted to know why her oldest cousin (my brother's step-daughter) is never around with the rest of the family for family functions. And every once in awhile she asks about her godmother who is divorced from my brother and who we refer to as "L" for more reasons than the fact that her name begins with that letter. I'm sorry you had to go through a divorce. I always feel for the children of broken marriages. Thank God you have your faith and can end the horrible cycle, at least in your own line.

Nikki said...

We too have had to divert a few questions about divorce. My parents are divorced we have a niece whose parents were never married. My girls have been oblivious, it is their friends who asked. Thankfully we were able to divert it.

We have used a heavy luggage analogy with our children. There is some information that is like a big suitcase. They just aren't big enough to carry it yet. Someday, we will be able to share all the information because they will be big enough to handle it.

It reminds me that sin is never personal. The things we do effect others, in ways we never imagined. So many of my generation think that what we do is no one else's business. The truth is sin does have consequences that often have long arms. Here a grandparents' sin effects how early grandchildren have to learn about things beyond their years.

La Familia said...

Great insight Nikki. I'm sorry that it comes from your own personal hurts with divorce. I always hate it when parents tell their children that their divorce has nothing to do with them. I know they mean that the children are not the cause of the divorce but it rips children apart inside, for years! It's heartbreaking.

Bob said...

I love that last line!