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By Chandrama Anderson

E-mail Chandrama Anderson | Follow this Blog

About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Zip It!

Uploaded: Jan 22, 2014
If you are divorced, never say anything bad about your children's other parent. In fact, don't even refer to him or her as "Your father" or "Your mother." You are the ones that chose to have children with each other.

Mom referred to my dad as "S**t-head" most of my childhood. How can that possibly help any child whose parents are divorced? In the end, of course, I was angry at Mom for calling him that, for her lack of ability to be the grown-up in the situation. Kids don't actually care what happened; they just need to be cared for by both of you.

Comments

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Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Jan 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

1000% true. When I was around 6 year old, my parents divorced and my mom moved us from CA to NY. My brother and I would visit my dad a few times a year. After every visit, we'd be sad to leave-of course. My Mom once told me, "You know, your Dad doesn't cry when you guys leave his house...the housekeeper told me."
At the time, I was confused. As an adult, I'm pissed.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Exactly. That's a great example. I'm sorry this happened. Thanks for writing in.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Chandrama,
I wonder if you were ever able to ask your mom about this situation? My mom passed away when I was 14 so I didn't get a chance to talk to her about what she said.

Also, have you read the book "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce"? In part, it examines the notion of the '70s and '80s of "if the parents aren't happy, they should divorce, because the kids will be better off". One of the findings is that kids don't really notice if their parents are simply unhappy, and that they're not better off in divorce situations. My parents divorced 30 years ago and I'm still confused by it!


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Posted by Try to understand, a resident of another community,
on Jan 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm

I agree the parents should not disparage the other parent. What about the father? you don't mention his responsibilities.
What is so hard to understand that a woman cannot tell her child that daddy is having an affair with another woman?
And now that you are an adult, what's so hard to understand about her pain and humiliation?


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Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Jan 27, 2014 at 8:15 am

Try to understand: I'm not sure to whom your comment is directed, but a child (I'm talking between the ages of 0 and 16 maybe) doesn't need to know that his/her father is "having an affair". Many kids wouldn't even know what those words mean! What they need to know is that Mom and Dad both love the child and that Mom and Dad are both still good people, even if they made mistakes in their marriage.
As an adult and a parent, we sometimes have to suck it up for the sake of your kids. Call the ex-husband "s**thead" all you want to your friends. Do not call him that to your kids.


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Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 27, 2014 at 10:20 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Sorry for the long time before answering; I had out of town guests.

RW, I was not able to to gain an understanding from my mom. She died in 2003. It must have been hard for you to have your mom die when you were 14. That's an age when kids are beginning to separate, and so you did not get to do that. Instead you got grief.

As for whether parents should divorce: This is a huge question (or debate). I think people need to think long and hard and work hard before they decide to get a divorce. I also think people need to take that same attitude to thinking hard about whether to marry in the first place, whether and when to have children. Slowing things down is almost always a good idea.


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Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Try to Understand,

Your example about an affair is another good one that parents need to keep to themselves.

I hope you understood my original post was meant for mothers and fathers. I am using pronouns randomly so to not write "s/he" any longer.

The pain from an affair may last a long time. That is understandable pain. It is still the parent's pain, and not for the adult child(ren) to work out.

Too often pain is not resolved and then is handed down to the next generation. We have to heal it at some point so as not to continue passing it along.


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Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jan 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I am the product of a home where both parents shouted at each other most of the time (and took it out on me) during my teens. I had a very unhappy time at home and would wish my parents could get on better. Somewhere along the line I blamed myself.

Fast forward to my parents old age. They stayed together which really amazed me and their latter years were idyllic as the love they had for each other was still there. They turned into the epitome of a happy elderly couple, doing everything for each other.

I am so pleased that they stayed together even though they appeared to be so unhappy for a while. Their problems were work related and money related but of course I had no idea of that at the time. It seems my Dad had made some bad financial decisions and was also having a hard time at work and his way of dealing with it was taking it out on his family. My Mom knew this and patiently waited until things got better even though it was hard for her to see the way he treated her and the kids. As a teen I thought it was both of them, but definitely thought it my fault.

It has taught me a lot about marriage, relationships and parenting. So yes, be careful what you say to your kids, but more importantly try to find out what is going on in your kids' minds. They do get the vibes of an unhappy relationship and they don't understand and maybe can't understand. But, as parents, do think of them first as they only have one childhood and it doesn't last very long.


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Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Mountain View Online blogger,
on Jan 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Thank you for sharing your story of your life and your parents marriage over a span of so many years. Kids are very tuned-in and smart, and they deserve a voice, too. Explaining things in age-appropriate ways (and only sharing appropriate information), and making space for them to ask questions and talk gives them both a voice and authenticity they will carry throughout their lives. Parents need couple time, too, and each parent needs to be seen and heard by the other. When we grow up in a shouting home, we may find ourselves shouting at our own partner; as if we saw parents retreat, we will likely do the same as adults. The goal is to be an anchor for one another and our kids. Yes, of course that takes work.



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