Currently, in our country (the Czech republic) more than 60 % of marriages is divorced, that means more then every second marriage. These are alarming figures, due to the fact that the children of such marriages suffer greatly from these divorces.
In addition, nowadays it is very fashionable, that the partners do not marry, even though they have children and in case of their breakup these numbers are not recorded anywhere. This means that the break-families are in fact far more common than indicated by the statistics. I therefore consider it necessary to speak here about the impact of divorce on the family and especially for children.
A child loves both his parents with a selfless love, even parents who are divorced or split up and have a conflict. Biologically child is actually half of his mother and a half of his father. Both these halves are connected with both parents by strong ties. Unfortunately, divorce situation is usually accompanied by a great conflict, which doesn’t often avoid a child.
A child is pulled into the conflict and he just don't know how to handle it. Recriminations of spouses often occurs and the child hardly bears because he loves both of his parents. Normally a child do not mind conflict between parents if he witnesses reconciliation. Nowadays, when we have the chance to sit down to a television or computer connected to the internet separately, a child witnesses reconciliation of parents very rarely.
I work as a systemic coach and I organize a Training of Helping Families by Systemic Methods. Very often I meet with such situation in families. Of course, parents don’t want to harm their child in any way, but often they just cannot cope with their situation. It is necessary to work with parents and show them the way out of the conflict. I have good experience working with their responsibility. During divorces parents often start to blame someone for their situation, usually their spouse or even themselves. It is clear that guilt does not disappear until parents take their responsibility. After that, it disappears immediately. Once they take the responsibility, guilt disappears and with it the conflict. Such work with responsibility presumes that both parents recognize their feelings of regret for the lost relationship, and only then they are ready to take responsibility for blame.
Try on yourself: if you feel guilty, you go crouching, you suffer the burden on the shoulders, cheerless mood and so on. But when you take responsibility for the guilty, you can straighten yourself, bear head up with pride and a feeling of heaviness disappears. In other words, if both parents can take responsibility for their share of conflict, they can both maintain their self-respect and also respect for divorced partner. That is very important.
If a child sees that parents respect each other, he calms down. And it’s not enough that parents only behave nicely to each other, because the child is sensitive and can sense when the respect is played. Parents themselves must to even think respectfully of each other. Then the child feels safe even during the conflict. But to have mutual respect is not easy, it is a process that parents have to undergo. They have to go deep inside, find behind their anger feeling of pity and fear, and only then they are ready and tuned to respect.
If the divorce conflict cannot be coped with the respect, the child is involved into the parents’ conflict and often even in a conflict of entire families. The child than lacks a role of a child and is now involved in a tangle of relationships he doesn’t understand. He lives in fact in a position that is not his. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon that the child is even treated like a messenger between each parent, or one one his parents makes him his friend – his conspirator. He is put in a role that is not his, so it is no wonder that he is confused in his situation. Then the child itself is not able to get out of these roles.
The catastrophe is when a child is pulled into the role of adjudicatior of actions of his parents. If you want someone to judge and assess you need to be somehow above him. At that moment a child is dragged into relations strange to him, distant and consequences of such involvement are serious then. Such a role is far from a role of a child who may feel safe. Similar consequences a child bears, if he is sorry for one of his parents. If we are sorry for someone, it weakens him and again we put ourselves to a position above him. Such a child again carries a role that is not his. Just imagine a situation of a child whose father tells to him about his mother that for example she is sloppy and his mother says about father that he is evil and he doesn’t want to take care of the family. How, then, such a child may feel about it? After all, we have said that biologically the child is actually a combination of his parents.
It is important for a child to recognize that he is only a child in relation to his parents, nothing more. Parents should lead their child to such an attitude and stress to him that they themselves will bear their pain. When parents divorce, the child feels that ha may die and is afraid of it. In addition, the child cannot be in a position of a judge, mediator or conspirator simply because he didn’t spent with his parents all their time, he knows only part of their life, usually he doesn't even know exactly what kind of roots his parents came from. Only few people know, for example, how many siblings his grandparents had and what was the situation in their families. For these reasons, the child can hardly be in a position to judge objectively.
To be a parent strong enough to deal with the divorce with respect to the other, it is necessary to gain strength from roots of our families. If, however, there was a divorce in their original family which wasn’t handled with respect, it is very inappropriate example for parents. It is important that these parents do not influence their parents' conflict. The remedy for them is again the respect, this time the respect for their parents.
If these relations are healthy and child's parents in relation to their parents may feel like their children who are not involved in a conflict of their parents, they can gain power from these relations that enable them to solve the conflict in their current family in a healthy way.