Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Divorce and the Effect on Small Children

OK. So Joy has kind of set me to writing again in her own caring way. It's all because of you Joy, ha ha.
I haven't really felt like writing a blog post lately for a whole lot of reasons, some of them good and some of them not so good but I think it's time I got to it again, don't you?
One of the reasons has to do with what happened recently between a friend of mine's daughter and myself. What happened was, I blew up before fully understanding the reasons behind her behaviour. You see, this little girl is only 7 years old and I have, for the past two years, tried so hard to be a friend to her and her 10 year old sister. I play with them and help them with their home work and when they are trying to make something I sit on the floor with them and get involved. Well the other day they decided to make paper aeroplanes and we got out the paper and started folding. Soon the lounge was strewn with paper darts and the girls were running around having a whale of a time. It was great fun but, as with all young children, it didn't take all that long before the younger of the two wanted to try something else. Now this is a very intelligent young lady and out came her dad's laptop and soon she was looking for origami designs. She chose a folding project that resulted in a paper monster face with a huge mouth and pointy ears. I, being the kind of person I am, grabbed a pen and drew an eye. She blew up. She started screaming and crying and shouting at me then she grabbed the monster from my hand and attacked me trying to punch me. As can be imagined I was taken totally aback and after a while I blew up too. I stormed out despite pleas from her sister and father not to leave, I was livid.
Of course by the time I got home I had already started asking the Lord what was going on, pouring out all my confusion to him. I was very upset to say the least. It just didn't make sense and I felt horrible. I sat at my computer talking to the Lord and slowly bit by bit He revealed to me the truth about this little girl and this is what the holy spirit showed me:
Her mother and father have just very recently gotten divorced but the fighting between her parents had started more than four years before that. She was only 3 when this all began and since the fighting and eruptions were between her Mommy and Daddy this was the only example she had as to how people treat each other. She only has the relational maturity of a three year old, a result of the abusive way in which the only substantial relationship she was involved in was handled.
I know I shouldn't have blown up, especially at a seven year old, but I was really upset and she was extremely explosive.  It had happened some months before but things had seemed to have quieted down, well I thought they had, the last time she got upset her reaction was at least within the bounds of understand-ability.
Now I just felt like the worst person in the world, she really needed me and I had stormed out leaving her in a state. I shouldn't have done that.
Psychologists have warned us for years about the consequences of divorce on young children and through this episode I experienced it first hand. This young lady has suffered serious damage that, unless corrected, will affect her whole life. The divorce itself is only the termination of what started years ago, Mommy and Daddy adusing each other and setting a standard of relational acceptability that leaves much to be desired.
I will be seeing her next weekend, and since her father told me this evening that she was really upset that I had left and had in fact run after my car crying, I know that we will be able to undo the rift between us. I'm going to have to spend a whole lot more time with these two little girls helping them to understand what love and friendship means. If the lord is willing, and with His help I will be able to change the course of their lives for the better.
My parents didn't divorce, in fact, I never once saw my parents even argue, not even once. It is difficult for me to understand how two parents can be so ungrateful for the love of their partner that they would resort to such vindictive abuse that they would even destroy their own children's lives to get their own way. The relationship between a child and their mother and father isn't like that of a child and their mother's boyfriend or fathers girlfriend. This is a relationship in which they are involved as opposed to one where they are an attachment to one or the other partners. Yes, divorce is destructive but, the destruction usually starts long before any divorce settlement is reached and lasts far into the future.
Anyway, now that that is off my chest and there is hope for a brighter future maybe I can get back to writing posts. There are other things that have contributed to my loss of Mojo, like James coming back from Kilimanjaro completely changed and having to deal with a supplier that is letting me down when I desperately need their support to meet deadlines at work, but that is another story and I will deal with all of that in time.
Tomorrow I'm going to introduce someone new to you, a young man who has had a stroke and so wants to start his own blog. I'm looking forward to helping him set it up and teaching him as many of the in's and out's as I can. In the meantime God bless all of you, you have really helped me get through the last month or so. It is now very late, 12.35am and I must get some sleep, work tomorrow. Thanks for your patience, love Geoff.

15 comments:

  1. MY parents divorced when I weas around 8 and it still affects me to this day. Although as an adult, I have a little more understanding of why I sometimes feel the way I do an I try to respond the way that God would be pleased and not just out of emotion. I am so happy to hear that you are mentoring these precious girls. They need you. Back in my time, the children were not recognised in the divorce. We just had to deal with it. My God bless you richly for being a friend to this family.

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  2. Kids are very resilient and can be very forgiving. They live in a very different state of mind than adults so sometimes it's difficult to interpret what they are thinking or to make them see things from the adult point of view. I'm sure things will be okay between you and the 7 year old if you are patient and let it go.

    I agree about the devastating effect of divorce on kids. I know my son by my first marriage was greatly affected in a negative way by the divorce of his mother and me. My daughters from my second marriage did much better after their mother left because I had learned so much the first time and applied that to the second time.

    Blessings,

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  3. Hello Geoff, children do copy their parents behavior and actions. And sometimes they behave in a way they choose if they know they can get away with it. It is the responsibility of their parent(s) to guide them. Hope you have a fun time with your friend and family this weekend.

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  4. Hi Geoff, I think this little girl wasn't sure of her own feelings and reacted this way because of deep down insecurity. I believe this hurt your feeling also as it was so confusing.
    Really, (In the ideal world)you would have been best to wait for quiet and then ask,"What happened?" and listened to the answer...
    My parents divorced when I was eight. It hurt not to have a father there. We are all unique individuals, with our our feelings and thoughts. Just keep on giving the love..and it will sort itself out. Blessings.

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  5. Geoff, It is very hard on children each depending on their maturity deal with it differently. Coming from a divorced family all of us below 8 years of age I being the oldest; we all handled it very differently. But when we consider how poorly most adults handle divorce we must remember that children are just little people, to young to have the tools some of us may or may not acquire as we grow in wisdom and God.

    I am so sorry you all had to go through it, but it seems to me that the Lords hand immediately came down nd healed you all rather quickly, for most children would have still been to angry and confused to realize the pain they may have caused you and cried because of it. I will pray over your upcoming visit but I have a strong extremely positive feeling about the whole thing.

    God Bless you hugs love and prayers Patricia..Hey where are the photo's of the climb?

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  6. Hi Geoff. I believe that as soon as you see this little girl this weekend and talk with her, all will be well between the two of you. I think you will all learn a bit more about God's grace. You will be able to show her God's loving forgiveness. I believe you already are a huge influence in her and her sister's life. I suppose that photo awhile back of you giving 'donkey' rides, was of you and the two little girls you speak of. You have excellent insight and compassion with the situation. Yes, divorce is a very sad event. In years to come, these children will remember your attention and care for them. Keep the good work, Geoff, and may God bless you richly my friend!

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  7. A sad reminder what a bad marriage can do to children. My parents fought for years in front of us and we were glad when they got divorced and the fighting stopped. God bless you for caring so much.

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  8. I haven't been posting much either Geoff. Same reasons I suppose. My son and his wife recently split up, and while it's all friendly it is still hard to get used to. I imagine it is for the grandkids as well.
    Separation and divorce can be very depressing. I did receive some good news however so I may be posting more often.
    I started blogging after a stroke too!
    Love Di ♥

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  9. Hello everyone, time to answer all of you. As far as I can tell everyone of you, except possibly Aishah, the only Muslim amongst those who have commented so far, have been touched by divorce within your own families, me too. Christian marriages are in trouble as far as I can tell. Anyway, be that as it may, I really appreciate all your insights. This is what I've learned from what you have said.
    None of you approve of divorce, no, not even one.
    KEENA still has a struggle with it years later and now turns to God to help her when understanding and emotions get mixed up.
    LEE found that as a single father his daughters were able to live more peacefully than had his son when he was being raised by his mother. I may be wrong in this because you didn't mention whether your son was raised by your ex or you.
    AISHAH agrees that children mimic their parents, and to tell the truth, that is what I think was happening here, that's how mommy treats daddy so it must be right.
    Crystal Mary thinks I could have shown a little more restraint and waited until everything had calmed down and I agree wholeheartedly, I should have.
    PATRICIA agrees that adults have absolutely no concept of the damage they cause their children when they divorce.
    JOY finds divorce very sad, me too.
    SIV was just glad to have some peace at last and
    DIANA has seen the effects in the lives of her grandchildren and children.
    However there is this much that I would like to bring to the fore: After the Lord had revealed the truth about this situation to me and I had thought about it for a while, I realised that I'm like a grandfather to these little girls. They do indeed need me, as Keena pointed out.
    My children didn't hear from their mother for about 10 years after our divorce and so there never was any residual conflict for them to take as an example, just like Lee.
    Sometimes grandparents give better help and guidance to little children than actual parents who are too close to the war zone to be able to see the bigger picture, if no grandparent is available to help, then those that these children love and value must do the job. Me!
    Anyway, things are going to be alright. I had dinner with my friend tonight and we discussed what the Lord had revealed to me and he has agreed to back off from conflict that is coming from his side and keep more quiet. He was astounded by what I showed him. "That's exactly what has been going on." and so on and so on.
    I will only see them during the upcoming week but have no doubts that all will be good again. As much as these girls love and need me, so too, do I love them and need them, it's a two way street.
    Oh by the way, I don't have grandchildren. a note to my own children, "Come on already, make babies." Ha, Ha.
    Diana, a special note for you. Yes I know about your stoke and took my friend Leon over to visit your blog. He loved it but as you know, this is going to take a little while before he will be up and running the way you do. I think your's will be the first blog that he will be following. Just a little patience.
    Thank you all for your comments, you have no idea how I appreciate your input and honesty. God bless all of you whether married or single, Muslim or Christian. I really do love you guys, Geoff.
    P.s. Joy, you are very perceptive and have a good memory.

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  10. Divorce is a curse on any society. I was divorced as a young man before I became a Christian. The repercussions of that divorce, more that 40 years ago, are still being felt today in my family.

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  11. Hi Geoff. Interesting to read your comments to others. Kind of beating a dead horse here, but I too have been divorced. Too much to share here and I've never really revealed much, but my divorce was one of the saddest things I ever had to go through. Yes, there are 2 sides to each story, but I wanted to work on the marriage, and he did not, he filed for divorce and also got custody of the children, then a 12 year old son and 15 year old daughter. The worst days of my life were learning to live without my children. No longer a wife, and then, for all practical purposes, no longer a mother. Who was I? Where did I fit in? I had to discover who 'Joy' really was. I would walk the streets at night and cry--no one can see you crying in the dark. I have always kept in touch with the children, and seen them when I could. Still, there is residual problems and I know these will only be solved or at least addressed with the help and grace of our Lord. I pray for that day. Divorce is a plague on society, a horrible, heart-wrenching event with consequences lasting generations. This is why God says He hates divorce. Bless you for stepping in and being a Godly example for those 2 girls.

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  12. Hey, don't worry too much about blowing up at the little girl. It happens to the best of us. You're still a great person :)
    Helpful and kind. Good on you.

    Also, loving the font change.
    Thanks for all your love,
    Manali

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  13. Prayers for you and the young lady! I believe when you reestablish contact with the young lady you will show her that people can be mad at each other and still come back and talk it out and remain friends. I have faith that you will have success with mending your friendship!

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  14. It sounds like those girls are lucky to have you in their lives. I hope your next meeting goes well and you can mend the relationship. I'm lucky to not be a child of divorce, but I know too many who are, including my god children, and the effects can be truly devastating. The pain can come out in so many ways, even years later. Good luck to those girls.

    Tina @ Life is Good
    and I are joining forces in a followup A to Z challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the original A to Z participants, and we hope you'll join us!

    Shannon @ The Warrior Muse

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  15. I was moved by your blog today. Divorce and how it affects everyone is very complex and there is enough pain, guilt and anxiety to go around for everyone.
    But like all things, we can make lemonade out of lemons. I think if you could talk to her, not about divorce but what happened between the two of you. Kids are smarter and they absorb like sponges. Tell her about how it all came about the interaction with you, just like you wrote about on your blog . . . tell her about how you feel and ask her how she felt. That would be an important thing for her. Kids often are spectators of what goes on and no one teaches them how to do positive interventions. Just be honest, I think she would listen. Talk to her of how to deal with anger, frustration and hurt. Tell her how you deal with it. And that everyone has hurt in their life and we can grow if we act constructively instead of negativly. Talk to her about how God gives you insight (although not always at the moment you'd like him to . . LOL) and how you are there to make her life better. I really believe that she will listen, will learn and will grow from your conversation, actions and caring for the rest of her life. You are the man that with your own words and experience can make a difference. I know your blog has made a difference in my life.

    I've wrote enough today, but I am interested in how your son is doing.

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