Divorce: Displacing My Kids after Divorce
My biggest regret during my divorce was displacing my kids. I thought it was best for a fresh start however I never realized it was so difficult for my kids. When my son was born we were in our first house until he was five years old. It was the only house he knew and he was just starting to make friends on our street. Nine months before my daughter was born we purchased another house in a different neighborhood. For my son, this was his second house and the house my daughter was in until she was two. My son was excited to be in a new school and a new neighborhood with more kids. We lived there four years before we moved out. It was a move out in every aspect of the word. I scheduled a moving truck, packed dishes, books, china, and everything else I wanted to keep in storage. I decided I would leave some furniture in the house, that was only fair or at least, I thought so at the time. It was important to empty the kid’s bedrooms so when we did move it would feel familiar to them to have everything that was in their old rooms. My daughter was still in daycare so for her the transition was different as she just moved to another preschool and eventually to a full-time daycare center until she started kindergarten. Fortunately, I was able to get my son in a charter school which ended after a year and a half of constant stress and multiple behavioral issues. Unfortunately, for my son, he moved to the neighborhood public grade school which was filled with constant fights and more behavioral issues. After a year and a half, he was in seventh grade and at the local Catholic grade school with his sister. This level of instability was a major culprit for my son’s behavioral issues which is why I started taking him to a therapist. Divorce can be extremely challenging with children especially if they are old enough to understand the dynamics. For my son, moving was the worst interruption of his life and now after six years, he is still a bit resentful. After six years, he feels his life was turned upside down and he had no control over the decisions. If there was a way to rewrite the script I would have minimized the transition for the kids. However, stable finances at the time were nonexistent so it prevented us from moving into our own place.
FIVE YEARS LATER…….
Now as I fast forward five years, we were near our old neighborhood and of course, the kids wanted to drive by our old house. I literally forgot how to get to the road we lived on after all of these years. It was obviously a mental block. I was so adamant about not going to the old house. I knew at the time the house was for sale so it was still empty. For the life of me, I didn’t understand why the kids wanted a reminder of our past. Finally, I decided to get it out of their systems and drive over to the street. It was an eery feeling driving through the entrance. The house was still for sale and the kids jumped out to walk around the house. I could see the excitement on my son’s face as well as the sadness. The next question, “can we buy our house”? I quickly let them know it was not possible to purchase our old house and tried my best to explain if we are meant to have another “home” we will at some point. Although, I had obviously moved on from our “old house” my kids were still stuck in our past. It is unfortunate we cannot predict the emotional state of our kids during a divorce.
When adults move on it is gradual but I found a way to push through it day by day. I know now that kids are not as resilient when it comes to giving up their normal. They store memories of the familiar in a file and this is what they remember and hold on to for a long time. I know first hand it is extremely difficult to remove memories for kids. My kids will always hold a piece of our old neighborhood close to their hearts. Whereas, for me, it just reminds me of feeling alone and isolated. Definitely, not a haven we typically call “home”.
The best outcome in these situations is to keep as much normal as possible for kids. Children are emotionally tied to what we give up. Moving on for kids is a slower process that takes more time than I ever realized in my decision. The best thing we can offer as parents is to give them as much time as possible to move on.