Sunday, May 2, 2010

Which Divorce "Camp" Are You In?

“Becky” asks:

I am in the process of getting divorced, and I respect your opinion, experience and level head, so am hoping you will tackle a question I have. My husband decided to leave me, which apparently he’d been thinking about for a long time but not sharing with anyone, and it came as quite a shock. I have been reading copious amounts of studies, and opinions, on divorced families. Summarized briefly there seems to be an "If the parents are okay the kids will be okay" camp, and an "it doesn't matter what the parent's marriage was like (except in cases of violence), kids do better with their parents together" camp. Of course there are variations on this theme and a number of 'camps' in the middle. Do you have an opinion about this?

One aspect I am trying to work through is how to keep my kids’ lives as 'normal' as possible, especially my 14 year old son, who is beginning to show signs of 'feeling left,’ which of course I feel as well. He seems to “feel left” even by me, though I am here, because of course I am not 'here' the same way I was before. I guess I am looking for a validation of "if we are fine the kids will be fine", but I don't really believe it. What do you think? And what is your hourly rate for phone session, btw?

Dr. Einhorn replies:

Hi Becky,

Thanks for your compliments, and I hope my reply lives up to them!

Every situation and every person is different, so I'm not so sure that there is a rule of thumb about divorce.  Kids will tend to take their cues from their parents, but each child might be sensitive to different cues, and there's also the impact on each child's relationship with her or his parents, which can vary from child to child within the same family.  So I guess I'm not camping in any "camp."  I'm all about the particular people in their particular situations.  In your son's case, what matters is what happened to this child within this family.  

Keeping things “normal” is good, but the very definition of what’s normal is changing in your family. It used to be normal for the family to live together, now the parents live separately, and perhaps have relationships with other people who are now coming into their children’s lives. Even the definition of what used to be normal is changing, because it now has become obvious that one parent had private thoughts and feelings that culminated in a separation and divorce for quite some time.  

So, for those who “got left,” reinterpreting where you were may be part of being able to move ahead from where you are.  

It makes sense to suppose that, in at least some respects, your son probably did "get left," and in a somewhat different way by each parent; Dad left with little or no warning, and Mom was probably freaking out--however quietly and self-containedly and trying to keep the children protected. So if your son didn't feel “left” he'd be pretty oblivious, wouldn’t he?  

What he does with that feeling is another thing.  Of course, I'm a fan of therapy, because I think talking about stuff like that with someone who can listen and help us think it through is a very good thing for our brains and our lives.  Some kids are open to the idea, some not. Have you raised the possibility with him?     

Contact me privately for rates for telephone consults. Be aware that such consults are not diagnosis or psychotherapy and can’t be submitted for insurance reimbursement.

Best wishes to you and your family,
Dr. Einhorn

No comments: