• Mon, Feb 17 - 12:00 pm ET

I Don’t Think It’s Possible Not To Villianize The Other Parent In A Divorce

childMy parents were divorced when I was 10, and it was far from a pleasant situation. I wouldn’t say that it was the worst divorce imaginable, especially after watching several child abduction episodes on Dr. Phil, but I am still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce today as an adult.

We’ve all heard the statistic before that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. I did a little digging, and it looks like that statistic is hard to pin down since divorce rates in the US appear to be decreasing, while marriage rates are also decreasing.

I do know that a good number of my friends’ parents were divorced when I was in school in the 90s. If I had to make a rough guess, the 50 percent estimate seems pretty accurate to me. Many of the divorce situations that I observed looked similar to my own—parents trying hard to make it work but still struggling with their own personal demons and bitterness.

Twenty years later, and I’m still dealing with a rocky relationship with my dad. I’ve had to work through many issues with both of my parents after the divorce, but my dad, in my opinion, was the one that did the most damage. My sister had a completely different experience and feels more positive toward her relationship with my dad.

It got me thinking. I know both of my parents probably had good intentions to shield us from the divorce, but that simply did not happen. We heard negative things about both parents on each side of the fence—sometimes as deliberate as bashing the other parent and sometimes just a blatant bad attitude detected toward the other parent.

No one is perfect, and breakups are never easy. I’ve heard of such things as “amicable divorces,” and I’ve seen the plot lines play out on TV sitcoms. But I don’t believe that these fantasy divorce situations are real. I’m not divorced as an adult, but I saw divorce firsthand as a child. I don’t see how it is possible to end a marriage with kids in the mix without poisoning the well—against one parent or the other.

(photo: Getty Images)

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  • MellyG

    I disagree. I’ve seen a lot of bad divorces, but I’ve seen my mother go through two excellent divorces, if there is such a thing. The first divorce i was 1. It was less than ideal, as i’ve come to learn (As an adult) that my real father was NOT a prince, by any stretch. However, both my mother and my eventual step father refused to say a single negative thing about bio dad EVER. They even covered for him when he frequently failed to do things he promised to do. They went out of their way to make sure any poor opinions I formed of him were my OWN, that i established as an older teen and adult.

    My mom eventually divorced the step dad (or “Dad” as i like to call him). I was an adult. They went on a divorce date and are still excellent friends. As in they get along better than when they were married, my mother goes to big events like my dad’s mom’s 90th birthday, and vice versa. There is the rare occasion they might make some snide remark about the other, but no different than married people i would think (the comments aren’t really all THAT snide, just poking fun mostly, like my mom saying “oh you’re just like your dad” and then reminding me that’s NOT a compliment :-P ) But there’s no real venom

    Maybe it’s my mother – she is one of those people that would be able to find good qualities in anyone, but i DO think it’s possible.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Honestly, I’m happy to hear your experience!

    • MellyG

      Thanks. And i DO think it’s hard, the fact that i’m older now, i can appreciate how difficult it must have been for my mother, and how often she must have bitten her tongue bloody. But while not easy, it IS possible…..i’m not sure i’d have the same willpower she did, but like I said, she could probably find a good quality in a serial killer, like “at least they’re determined” lol

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL great line there :)

    • G.E. Phillips

      “However, both my mother and my eventual step father refused to say a single negative thing about bio dad EVER. They even covered for him when he frequently failed to do things he promised to do. They went out of their way to make sure any poor opinions I formed of him were my OWN, that i established as an older teen and adult.”
      Exactly this, and good for your mother and stepfather for handling things that way.

    • MellyG

      I’ve always loved my step dad, but now that i’m older i can see how much he must have loved ME, to be SO cordial and go out of his way to accommodate a man that was his wife’s EX (And crappy ex at that) just so I wasn’t put in the middle. That’s a strong man right there!

    • LJ

      This! So much. My husband and I have been dealing with this with our son’s bio mom since she first knew about me. We have always refused to speak any ill of her, no matter what. She has always spoken ill of both of us to our son, to our son’s teachers, doctors, anyone really that will listen. Even calling social services on us a few times. I spent the first year of our relationship mostly in tears. I couldn’t understand so much hate from someone. But as the years have gone by ( and we took her to court to stop the harassment) things have been better. Ideal? by no means. Currently her relationship with our son is crumbling. She had another child with someone else, that person also left her and she seems to be blaming our son for it. He is so desperate for her attention (acting out in school currently) but she refuses to spend time with him except for on the days she knows we are picking him up for our time, then they suddenly have gone to the movies or she bought him a new movie/video game. It is heartbreaking. We’re taking him to counseling during our time and are working closely with his school. We might have to fight for custody if she keeps this up. We just want to shake her and make her realize how much our son loves her and how much she is hurting him, no matter any of the awful things she has done to us. We just bite our tongues and hug our son. He deserves more than adults being bitter in his life.

    • G.E. Phillips

      I’m sorry you’re going through that, but you’re right–you, your husband and especially your son are only going to benefit from you staying on the high road, so good for you!!! *internet fist bump*

    • MellyG

      That’s so sad. And i don’t understand parents like that, because can’t they see they’re only hurting their own kids? (also, you sound like an awesome step parent!)

    • LJ

      Thank you. I hope I’m an alright step mom. I, honestly, find myself several times throughout the day making little, “please just let him know how much we love him” wishes. He really is so good and seems so happy when we have him. He is wonderful with his little sister (our/my bio daughter) but how we handled our daughter coming into our son’s life was very different than how his mom did with her baby. (It also seemed as though she purposefully had a child after finding out about our daughter. A month after knowing she called a lot saying how she was now pregnant also and then had a baby 10 month’s after our daughter was born. It was and still is very bizarre to me.) His counselor says he says nothing but positive things about his sister but unfortunately does not have the same outlook toward his little brother from his Mom. :/ I worry about him and his new little brother. I worry that we aren’t doing enough or that what if my son is so miserable at his mom, will he blame us for not acting on his behalf sooner? Or what if we act too soon and he resents us for trying to make a better home life for him because it is away from his mom? Being a step parent is hard and it will emotionally drag you through the trenches but for me, it is worth it. Things can get better. This will get better too.

    • MellyG

      I’m not a parent, but i think the fact that you HAVE these worries makes you an awesome parent. The fact that you hope he knows he’s loved makes you an awesome parent. I have a theory that all parents mess up something – they’re all human, it’s gonna happen. But kids will be ok if they know they’re loved <3

    • Bethany Ramos

      I second MellyG – for me, it is so wonderful to hear you share your point of view because even though I am somewhat close to my stepdad, it never felt like we were “his” kids. That hurt so much and still does. The fact that you are worrying about this so much…. That is one lucky kid. :-)

    • Kitsune

      I just wanted to say that you sound like you’re doing everything you can and I think he will appreciate that no matter what winds up happening. My dad desperately wanted custody of me but I got stuck with my emotionally abusive and horribly neglectful mom when I was one and they divorced. He and my stepmother did everything they could to mitigate my mother’s affect on me and as soon as I could choose to live with them at 14 I did. I know how hard it was for them and know they did the best they could under the circumstances. I love my stepmother and actually consider her my real mother. I’m sure you’ll still worry because that’s the nature of parenting but I wanted to give some reassurance from the perspective of a stepchild.

    • LJ

      Thank you so much, it means a lot to me to hear that. <3

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      O yes, lol when we were trying to conceive, we mentioned the possibility of a new brother or sister to the kids.
      Within several months, we stopped trying due to a financial issue, plus I was having difficulty conceiving due to a long issue of fertility in the family.

      Once she heard we had been trying to have a baby, suddenly she called “O Just to say I’m actually pregnant now, I’m only letting you know cos I’ll be showing soon. Didn’t take long, sure you KNOW HOW FERTILE I AM UNLIKE OTHERS”

      This was definitely done to hurt us as she is a large lady and my fella said she never showed for ANY of their three kids til she was 6 months gone, as she has so much weight on her, so it was purely to rub it in our faces about how hard we were finding it to get pregnant.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      EXACT SAME SITUATION HERE!!!!
      13 year old son is totally neglected by the mother!

      I had wondered if this was common or just us!

    • AmandaSam325

      That was exactly my experience, too! My opinions of my bio dad are all based on his own actions (or lack thereof.)

    • MellyG

      I’m pretty sure my mom was able to bite her tongue and be so cordial, because she knew i was a smart kid and it wouldn’t take long for me to figure him out on my own (And bonus, i can’t get mad at HER)

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      THIS!
      We need more people like this!
      We were lucky enough that once the divorce finally came through with my parents, it had been 5 years since they split (thank you Irish law!) and at the end, they both cried, gave each other a hug and a kiss, and wish each other the best of luck.

      They get on better now as friends than they ever did as a couple!

  • Katherine Handcock

    I think it’s very difficult, but I know a few people who lived through truly amicable divorces between their parents, and a few people who have had them. It takes a LOT of willpower on the part of the parents, though, and that just may not be possible for many people if the relationship broke up for a more emotionally intense reason than “we grew apart.”

  • Crusty Socks

    Nerd Alert:

    Logically, if the divorce rate really is 50%, and if anyone has gotten 2 or more divorces (which is true), then over 50% of people who have gotten married have never divorced.

    /Nerd

    • Iwill Findu

      yes totally thinking the same thing I know a women that’s on her 3rd divorce and she’s under 35. way to drive the rates up.

    • Bunny Lucia

      My father is on his 7th or 8th marriage, no one can actually remember how many people he’s married.

    • Guest

      My in laws are like that- MIL is FIL’s 4th or 5th wife. She married a guy, divorced him, married him again, divorced him, then married FIL, divorced him, and married him again.

    • AP

      The divorce rate is calculated by dividing the number of divorces granted in a year by the number of marriage licenses issued in a year.

      So basic demographics (the number of people in their 40s vs. the number of people in their 20s) can alter the divorce rate dramatically. It should be going down shortly, because there are more Millenials than Gen-Xers, although there’s been an uptick in “Grey Divorce” among Baby Boomers in their 50s and 60s that could change that.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Actually (At least in 2009) the divorce rate in total was somewhere between 42-46%, I can’t remember.

  • G.E. Phillips

    My parents were divorced when I was 4, and I had to listen to negative comments all the time–from my mother about my father and stepmother, and from my stepmother about my mother (my father stayed the hell out of his own divorce.) I grew up believing that my parents never loved each other; I grew up knowing all of the sordid details of their break-up, and it hurt me very badly. There was no reason on earth–given the fact that both my parents were actively involved in raising me, that I needed to know any of that. As for my situation, I wasn’t married to Face’s dad, but we were together for a while, and now we’re apart for good. And as much as I am not thrilled with him as a person, I have vowed never to speak negatively to him, or about him in front of Face. There’s a very good chance that Face will figure out, sooner rather than later, that his father has some serious problems (alcoholism and bi-polar disorder, both of which he is in denial about) but he is NOT going to glean it from me. When the time comes, and Face asks, I will explain what I can about his dad, in the kindest way possible. Right now, all my child knows is that Mommy and Daddy both love him, and that we’re friends, but that we can’t live together any more, and that’s all he needs to know.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Good for you!! I see my sister try to do the same with her daughter’s father (never married), and omg, it seems so difficult, especially since he has issues as well.

    • G.E. Phillips

      It’s not hard. It’s not like I NEVER talk shit or vent about some of the dumb stuff my ex does, because believe me, I do. It’s just not anything Face needs to hear about, ever.

  • Des

    My parents divorced when I was 15 (I’m now 35). They were always on the same page for me and my little brother. Recently due to finances (couple years now) they moved in together. They are not “together” nor do they want to be. It is not a typical situation yet it makes sense to us, because they maintained a friendship because their children were more important to them than their own bitterness/issues. I try to emulate the situation with my ex husband as well. It’s easier for me to do because I KNOW what could have happened if my parents had not been the role models they are. I will be the bigger person for my children’s sake.

    • Des

      I should also mention my ex is kind of a spineless DB without an original thought. No doubt a more difficult man would be easier to hate… this is more like pity. My kids will figure it out someday on their own.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      My ex was the exact same way, which is actually why I still get kind of grouchy when I think about him (I know the reason he came in to my apartment on a weekend when I wasn’t there to collect his stuff after I’d explicitly asked him not to because I wasn’t comfortable with that is due to his inability to stand up to his parents), but fortunately, there were no kids, so I can get away with continuing to be grouchy about it.

  • Kay_Sue

    I had the wonderful experience of meeting my (now) husband during the time period when he and his ex-wife were separated but still in the process of divorcing. There was so much hate and anger that it very nearly ruined our relationship, because I could not see myself being with someone that was able to turn on their former partner like that.

    They have both grown since then, as they were married and divorced young, and have a really good, mutually respectful (once again, I’m assuming on her end) co-parenting dynamic. I can count on one hand the number of times they’ve had a doozy over the past four years that we’ve lived together. We’ve got a commitment to never being negative about her or her family around any of the kids, including our own, because we don’t want it to get back to their daughters, and it is my personal expectation of him that he will always be respectful towards her, because she’s also the mother of his children. I expect him to recognize her as such on Mother’s Day, and also on his girls’ birthdays (I know it seems silly), in particular, and in every conversation to conduct himself in such a way that he doesn’t belittle or berate or deride her, because I never want my stepdaughters to internalize that as a reflection of what he thinks of them (or that it’s okay for a someone to treat them like that under any circumstances) because she is part of them.

    • Bethany Ramos

      You sound like an awesome step-mom!

    • Kay_Sue

      They make it easy. ;)

    • Crusty Socks

      Sure they say the same about you

    • Kay_Sue

      I certainly hope so.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      WOW
      You are AMAZING!!!
      I applaud you, I wish I had that relationship with my fella’s ex!

      I am strict on what is said about her in the house, only positive things. If he wants to rant about her to me at night in the privacy of our bedroom that’s ok, sometimes a rant is needed.
      Just wish it was reciprocated, as sometimes the kids have asked me what certain words mean-
      “Whore”
      “Slut”
      and “C**t” were the most popular lol, kids asking what they mean.
      When I ask where they heard it, they’d reply- O Mam said you were one.

      LOL pleasant conversation!

    • Kay_Sue

      Weirdly enough, it’s her mom I have serious issues with. She never had a chance with that woman for a mother, and since she and the kids live with her parents, I have to deal with them much more often than I’d like. *sighs*

      I’m not sure how I’d handle it if those kinds of things got back to me. I’m glad you can maintain your composure, I don’t know that I could!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      It’s sad sometimes, you never know what someone is thinking.
      I try to brush it off to be honest, sometimes the kids have asked me do I mind that their mam doesn’t like me, and I just say no, cos not everyone in the world is best friends with everyone else.
      Even though I’d REALLY like to say You’re mother is a sow who hates me lol I refrain from it.

      The way I see it, is I will not stoop to her level.

  • LadyClodia

    This is a tough one. I’m going to say that I was 8 when my parents divorced, which would have made my mom 28 and my dad 30. My dad was not a pleasant person before the divorce, and he might have been an alcoholic. But he got his shit together after the divorce and has been pretty great since (we had worked out some unresolved issues when I was in high school.) If they said anything bad about each other then I don’t remember it. Most tension later on came from their significant others (i.e. my stepfather having issues with my dad for no reason.) They married young and were young when they got divorced, and I’m surprised that they managed to be as mature as they were about it, at least from my point of view.
    But while ultimately I saw their divorce as a positive thing, my younger brother, who was 5, saw it as an extremely traumatic event. Their divorce bothered him for years and years, and I’m not sure if he’s completely over it now 25 years later. He was still really young, though, and hadn’t realized what was going on with my dad. Plus, my dad had treated my brother much better than he had treated me.
    Also, I only had one friend in elementary school whose parents were divorced, and maybe like 3 friends in middle and high school, so I definitely felt like the odd one out in that regard. I was the only one of my friends dealing with (troubled) step-siblings. And I think part of my brother’s problem was that he didn’t have any friends whose parents were divorced, and it was a source of shame for him that his were.

  • Kelly

    It’s very possible. My best friend was married to a total piece of shit. He cheated on her, gave her multiple sexually transmitted diseases and emptied their savings account to buy drugs, bankrupting them. By the time she discovered what he was doing, it was too late. He ruined them.

    If she can manage to not tell her two sons that their dad is a piece of shit, other people have no excuse. Parents really need to grow the hell up when it comes to divorce. It’s hard enough on kids without mom and dad acting like a couple of mean junior high school girls.

    • blh

      My sons dad isn’t really around and if he asks why I will tell him EXACTLY why. Age appropriate of course, I couldnt tell a little kid all the shit. But I will never make excuses and defend him. He cheated and did drugs and it is entirely his fault we broke up and when my son asks what happened I’ll tell him.

    • moonie27

      There’s no problem with being extremely neutral and honest – but if you act like you hate your kid’s father, you’re implying you hate half of your kid.

    • ted3553

      I was trying to click on the page and downvoted you accidentally. Sorry

    • moonie27

      Totally cool! Thanks for letting me know! :D

    • Kelly

      Then you’re an extremely immature person. There’s no good reason for you to unload that kind of baggage on your child. It is not ok.

    • blh

      I asked my mom when I was older why they got divorced and she told me. If he asks and I’m sure he will I’ll tell him. Don’t see why its a big deal.

    • ted3553

      I get where you’re coming from. i’ve got 2 late teen step daughters who have been sheltered from their mother’s poor actions for a long time but we’ve now started having honest conversations with them. It’s couched and tempered but they deserve to know that their mother did have to drive past our town to get where she was going to but chose to tell them she wasn’t coming past it and so couldn’t pick them up. We have also become more honest about things that they’d been told about their father that they’d only been given part of the story about or a complete lie. At some point they do deserve to know the truth about some parts and I don’t think telling the truth about some situations means that you’re necessarily unloading baggage

    • blh

      My thing is if he was a good dad, I wouldn’t tell my son the awful stuff. But he goes months without seeing him and doesn’t cntrbute financially at all. I’m not going to tell my son oh your dads a great person he just doesn’t wanna see you. Like that’s a valid way for a parent to act. No its BC he’s a sitty person who treats everyone like crap. He’s also a pathological liar so I dont want him telling my son lies about me making me look like the bad guy.

  • val97

    My oldest son’s father and I broke up when my son was around 2 years old. I remarried when my oldest was 5. He moved to Hawaii. I think he’s back in our home town now, I’m not sure. We’ve probably exchanged 3 emails and 1 phone call in the past 12 years. In some ways, it is good because he’s not in my son’s life, so there’s not much to say, good or bad. When my son was much younger, I told him that his dad has a sickness (addiction) that makes him unable to take care of other people and that he has to just focus on himself to get better. He understands more now, but never ever asks about him. I am the one who brings him up, but usually it’s in a really casual way. I try to mention him whenever I think of him – ie, your father (we actually refer to him by his first name) is really good at fishing, boxing, etc.

    My parents were together until my father’s death. That didn’t stop the negative comments, especially from my mother, since she was mostly a sahm, and I could hear her complaining to her friends or on the phone, or even to me. My husband and I try very hard to be respectful to each other (even when we are fighting), especially around the kids.

    • Armchair Observer

      Wow, you sound a lot like my mother (including your father’s death). As the child who grew up in such a situation, I can say that I feel pretty self-confident and have only very bland feelings in regards to the divorce or my father.

  • DeliciousIroning

    Or you could do what my parents did when they got divorced: Decide neither of you want the kids and put them up for adoption. On the plus side, we never got to listen to all the sordid details of their marriage which I understand was beyond awful.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Thank you for sharing. <3

  • LiteBrite

    When it comes to divorce, I think it’s hard not to let strong, negative emotions (hurt, anger, etc) get in the way. When my parents got divorced, I was older (in college), but my siblings were much younger (middle and elementary school), and my mother was VERY vocal about what she perceived were my father’s shortcomings, to a point where it was a good couple of years for the youngest ones to rediscover a relationship with him. I know she felt hurt, betrayed, angry, jealous, and my mom used her words as weapons to get to him. I’m not saying it’s right or that I agree with her (trust me folks; I DON’T), but I also think it would have been extraordinarily difficult for her not to, given the circumstances.

    I like to think that if DH and I ever got divorced, we would be above doing the same thing, but who knows?

    Note: After thinking about it, I do know of a couple of people who were divorced and managed to keep their negativity away from their children. I don’t know if they’re the norm though.

    • Brainspace

      I’m in the same boat as later-in-adolescence/adulthood child of divorce. In some ways, it was easier understanding what was going on–none of the issues with “Is this my fault?” and “Do they still love me?” At the same time, though, it was also very difficult knowing everything that was going on; my mom definitely did not keep her feelings quiet and I had to help her with driving to appointments and what not, so I was involved whether I wanted to be or not. Like you said, I can see why–my dad refused to even try counseling and the divorce papers at least kind of came out of left field. My dad pulled away and didn’t tell me anything, but I did blame him for a long, long time, which was hard because I’d always had a good relationship with him.

      Planning our wedding was a nightmare with my mother obsessing over all the things my father “got” (father/daughter dance, walking down the aisle, even where they were sitting in the church). To my dad’s credit, he made no demands at all, even though he paid for nearly everything, and didn’t even bring the woman he was seeing (we didn’t ask him not to, he just didn’t).

    • LiteBrite

      My mom actually refused to go to my younger sister’s wedding if my dad was going to be there. Really mom? You’re going to miss your daughter’s wedding just because your ex-husband (whom you most likely won’t even talk to) will be there? The wedding was close to 10 years after their divorce, and I found it ridiculous that she was still playing that game. I think that’s the one and only time I actually told my mom to “grow the fuck up.”

      She did end up attending the wedding after all, but the stupid drama she gave my sister in the beginning was just unacceptable.

    • Guest

      That is the stuff I can never understand. I wanna slap the people that act like that and explain that this is what 7th graders do when they break up not grown adults. Also, the person who is so against seeing their ex ends up looking like a pathetic mess who can’t move on and do better in their life.

    • Brainspace

      Totally agree. My mom has issues with depression and OCD, so I generally tend to give her some leeway with her emotional responses, but this was just out of control.

      Thank God my mom didn’t threaten not to come, but she did threaten everyone on her side (mainly my aunt) that they’d better not talk to my dad. We got our wedding video back nearly 6 months after the fact and she was pissed that the videographer caught my aunt and dad talking. SERIOUSLY?!

      My husband and I are both children of divorce, so it’s very important to us to explore every avenue we can before walking away from the marriage (if we have kids). I mean, obviously no one wants their marriage to fail or is just waiting to jump ship, but it’s something we discussed extensively before getting married.

    • moonie27

      I hate that. Dads already get the short end of the stick in divorces (generally, though not always) and then if the moms can’t keep ‘husband’ separate from ‘dad’ … well, the kid and dad can both be deprived of their relationship.

      Some people are shitty spouses but great parents.

  • jo

    This is so true. I’m not technically divorced, but I co-parent in separate households with a former “hook up.” We don’t have all of the bitterness of divorce as we were never in love, but we have definitely formed our own special issues over the years :-/ I have found that kids pick up on feelings pretty well no matter how good their parents’ intentions are. I have had to dig deep and actually develop some humane feelings about my baby daddy or else my bitterness would be pretty obvious. Insightful article :-)

  • K.

    This article frustrates me a bit, partially because I think it’s unfair to generalize from a single (difficult, shitty) experience. I am sorry OP went through that, but it’s not fair to conclude that because two people (however lovely) couldn’t manage it, no-one can.

    My parents split up when I was 13 (now 27) and I have good relationships with both of them, and have throughout (I also get along well with both step parents). The hiccups in my relationships with them are certainly not caused by the divorce, though in some cases they may share causes. They’re not really friends with each-other but they’re friendly, they will both be at my wedding, and I’ve more or less never heard them trash-talk each other. In all I’ve witnessed a lot less hostility between them than most of my friends with still-married parents have in their families.

    Sometimes people are better off apart and I don’t think it’s smart or responsible to put out there this myth that it’s impossible to separate without destroying your kids. I’ve always been happy my parents split up, because they both blossomed as people afterwards in ways that I am convinced they could not have together. They worked hard to try to save their relationship (years of couples counseling, trial separations, spiritual journeys, new careers) but they knew when to stop. I don’t think anyone should make the decision to end a relationship where kids are involved lightly, but when that decision is made together out of love and respect, out of the realization that you can be better people separate than together, it can be the best thing that can happen to your kids.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    My parents split up when I was 3. Do I remember all that went on during it? No, but I know that for many, MANY years, my mom refused to say anything bad about my dad in front of me. It wasn’t until I was a teenager, and had my own (very firm, unchanging) opinions that she finally let me know what she thought. I don’t have a good relationship with my dad, but that’s because my dad is a horrible father. He does great as a step-father, and he’s an amazing grandfather, but as a father, he’s shit. That has nothing to do with my parents divorce, it’s just the type of person he is.

    I’m sorry your parents had a horrible split, but amicable divorces are very possible.

  • Zettai

    I agree that it’s hard not to villainize anyone. I am close to someone with divorced parents and it was very tough for them at first, and sometimes even now.

    My friend thinks the divorce was the best thing that could have happened, and wishes it had happened sooner. If you ask one of their siblings, though, the divorce was horrible and sad. It really scarred them, because they only saw two happy people who couldn’t try hard enough to make it work when shit hit the fan. My friend saw two very unhappy people who took out their unhappiness on them for years, and broke it off when the shit piled up too high, not hit the fan. Each sibling has a very different version of the marriage and divorce in their minds, and very different relationships with their parents because of it. One sibling is so close to the parent that loudly cast themselves as the “victim” that it looks unhealthy… they act like a teenage couple at times.

    For all the divorced parents that don’t make their kids take sides and focus on the child, not the divorce, I give you a cheer. Watching this from the outside is hard enough… I can’t imagine being on the inside. In a screwed-up way, my dad disappearing sounds a lot easier than something like this. (Not meaning to offend, BTW. Hope I didn’t.)

    • Bethany Ramos

      Well said!

  • Guest

    I think it is fair to say that some people handle divorce better than others. That is why I tell my friends if you’re going to marry someone think about how the divorce would look (if it happened, of course). That being said, I always give props to those who can carry it out well. Either way, I think most kids figure out if their parent is a douche at some point regardless.

  • Armchair Observer

    You know, I find this hard to relate to. My parents divorced when I was very young (just before I turned 2) and my father just really was never much of a figure in my life. We didn’t talk about him, nor did my mother complain about him or speak angrily about him. I just have very bland, benign feelings about the whole thing.

    Was it age? My mother’s approach? Who knows.

    I really don’t think there is a perfect divorce, though.

  • Gigi

    This statistic and story doesnt even cover those relationships who have kids out of wedlock. The kids go through the same stuff when their parents relationship ends too. Marriage rates are going down but relationships are still ending terribly and kids are still stuck in the middle.

  • Lackadaisical

    I appreciate that it can be very, very hard for both parties of a divorce to keep all the pain and hate away from the children. I realise that it is especially hard at the beginning when everything is raw and where the other person messes the kid around a lot or doesn’t hold back on trying to win the kid over by whispering poison in their ear. I do understand that. I do, however, think that if both people in a split are prepared to try their very hardest to shield the kids from the nastiest bits of the break up of the relationship and the struggle to figure out how to compromise on raising the kids, then the kids do have a much better chance of a smoother family split. Nobody is perfect and it is so tempting to let slip on how hurt you are or how you don’t want your kids hopes up as you think the other person will let them down, but kids can come out of it feeling loved by both parents and believing that their parents get on well enough to work together to raise them, even though they remain apart. Kids do pick up on how much respect their parents give each other, even if that respect is a mechanical thing for the sake of the children only. I have seen parents at war with each other in the way that you have described among my friends and I have also seen the amicable splits that everyone hopes for. None of those parents find it easy but the ones who pretend everything is amicable soon find that things really are a lot more amicable than they used to be. By keeping quiet on the hate and both pretending to be polite and understanding some of them do find that the polite pretence of friendship can even become real when time and distance have taken away the sting of the emotions of the break up. I even have a friend who split up with her ex boyfriend who had been like a father to her kids from a previous relationship since the kids were toddlers and managed to resist the temptation to cut him out of her life completely and instead gave him all the rights of a father for the sake of her kids who view him that way, despite no legal obligation to do so. Their biological father refuses to be a part of their lives but she doesn’t even bad mouth him to the kids. It isn’t easy, she finds it hard work, and things aren’t always perfect but the kids are happier for it and it gets easier with time. Of course sometimes an ex can make being nice impossible, and sometimes a split can be because an ex is a danger to their kids due to extreme behaviour, but where they are prepared to at least try to be civil then trying your hardest to be polite and mature back makes a huge difference to the kids, even if you slip from time to time.

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    I’ve also gotten caught in the middle of a nasty divorce.
    Accusations of affairs, intentional pregnancies, etc, and sadly, as my dad is a well known musician, was VERY high profile, so we hardly ever got a break from it.
    I was 9, I was managing ok, but my brother truly believed they might get back together for several years after, despite dad remarrying and both parents having another child with their partners.

    My relationship with my father has greatly improved because now I am older, I am on the other side- I’m the stepmother. I’ve sadly gotten caught between my partner and his ex wife. Not being biased but the woman despises my guts, and unfortunately has accused me of horrendous things like breaking up her marriage, getting engaged just to “piss her off” etc.

    I’ve tried so hard to forge a relationship with this lady, I tried meeting her for lunch and coffee to work things through. They always ended up with her calling me some nasty name and storming off on me.

    Her partner left her just before Mother’s Day last year. She’s made it clear to my partner that she doesn’t want ANY gifts from him (aka presents bought for the kids to give to her) for birthdays, christmas or mother’s day.

    I figured she needed some cheering up so I bought her a lovely set from The Body Shop.

    Once she found out I had bought it for the kids to give her, it was returned to me with a charming note.

    In this case, I do think it’s a case of her just hating me, so on her side, I’M the villain.
    That’s fair enough, but the fact I tried so hard and tried so hard for the kids makes it quite hard at Communions and Confirmations.
    I was told at the eldest girl’s Communion that I “Had no right to be here, that I wasn’t a real parent, that everyone is wondering why HE brought his Whore”
    In front of a group of 8 year old this was said.

    We’ve the other girl’s communion in May so I’m actually dreading it. =/

    • Kelly

      You really need to leave her alone. I get that you’re trying to be nice but you can’t force a relationship with her. She doesn’t want anything to do with you and that’s her right.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      I understand that now, but this was at the start, in the first year, after her saying multiple times to her ex (my partner) that she’d like me more if she could get to know me.
      So it was on her request that we tried meeting, hence my genuine confusion at the hostility. SHE wanted to meet as much as I did, she actually asked the first few times, but it totally disintegrated. =/

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is ROUGH. Thank you so much for sharing. <3

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Thank YOU for putting up with my ranting!
      I can be rough yes, but honestly, the kids make it all worth every second of it. =)
      I’d do anything for them.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is so wonderful to hear!! Really. :) They are lucky.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Nah, I’M the lucky one, to have children who were so welcoming and accepting and genuinely WARM towards me from the very beginning. =)