What I know now

I went through a divorce about 20 years ago. At the time we only had one child still living at home, with the others having moved out as young adults. The divorce had been years in the making, although my ex and I were still amicable and no lawyers were needed since we split our assets without them being needed. As I was very worried about the impact of it on my youngest (early teens), once we had told the kids about our decision, we took him to therapy to help him work through any concerns he had. Unfortunately, he fooled us all and convinced both us and the therapist that he was very well-adjusted and could handle it. We shared joint custody and my ex bought out my share of our house and our youngest chose to stay in that home primarily, with visits to me on weekends. I remained as involved as usual with his school, and I handled all of the usual medical and dental appointments and shopping for clothes, etc. What I didn’t know was that my ex had completely fallen apart and had completely disengaged as a parent in the process. Our youngest was led to believe that I was totally to blame for the breakup, and my ex encouraged him to think that I wasn’t paying child support and that I had “abandoned” him. As a result, my son became very reluctant to come for visits, and was very rebellious towards me. I had no way of knowing what was going on in their house until my kids told me many years later. The damage has been long term. My son suffers from severe depression and anxiety. Our relationship is still very tumultuous. He has a huge amount of anger towards me, and I’m sure that much of it is because of the misinformation he was fed as a child that he still believes. If only I’d known what was taking place, I could have fought for primary custody. I would have insisted on joint therapy to help him understand what was going on. Now he’s an adult, and he’s still suffering from our decision to divorce. So for anyone considering a divorce right now where children are involved, PLEASE take my advice and make sure that you really know what’s going on when you’re not around.

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Anonymous

Oct 26, 2020 at 5:52pm

I think most people would agree that it's better to divorce than carry on with a fake relationship. You're not helping a child by creating a fake fantasy world for them to live in temporarily.
Most mood disorders are caused by chemical imbalance, not life circumstances; there are plenty of kids who come from less-than-ideal backgrounds and are stronger people for it.
You may be a toxic parent, thinking that everything revolves around you, or maybe you just carry too much guilt?--I don't know. But it would be better for the child if you try to set a good example for them, instead of pointing fingers and assigning blame to others.

4 9Rating: -5

Right.

Oct 26, 2020 at 6:53pm

You will never know what really goes on when you're not around. Quit blaming others, it's done now. Help your child deal with it. Sounds like you also need to continue with counselling. Divorce sucks for everybody but particularly for the kids and that's a given.

6 8Rating: -2

The past

Oct 26, 2020 at 9:22pm

Is the past. Your ex turned out to be a nut job. That is not your fault. Just be happy you got away from her when you did.

6 6Rating: 0

@Anonymous

Oct 26, 2020 at 11:38pm

I think possibly you didn’t read anything I said. The “child” is long grown up. This took place decades ago. I found out about the stuff my ex had said only long after it was too late to do anything about it; about 3-5 years ago. It’s called alienation of affection when one parent deliberately tries to influence the child to either dislike or mistrust the other parent. That’s what my ex did. Had I known about it at the time I’d have taken action before the damage was done to my relationship with my son, who refuses to listen to anything I try to explain to him now about the reality of what actually happened. As for being a “toxic” parent who thinks everything revolves around me, if you knew the truth of the situation you’d know how totally off base you are lol.

14 5Rating: +9

The first anonymous

Oct 29, 2020 at 1:18pm

I think you misinterpret what I said above. I'm talking about children in general, not your adult child specifically. Why would I be talking about your kid if I've never even met them? Do you have a persecution complex or something?
My comments stem from my own experience as a child of parents who refused to consider divorce even though they were constantly fighting and not remotely suited to each other. Kids are not stupid and can sense these things (when I say kids, I'm an adult, but still their kid). If my mother--who is physically, verbally and psychologically abusive--had told me lies about my father to turn me against him when I was younger, I wouldn't have believed her.

That said, whenever I hear one partner demonizing the other and saying what a horrible parent they are, I have to wonder if it's some sort of projection on their part. I mean, you choose to make children with another person ('you' meaning 2nd person narrative, not 'you' specifically, as I don't know you) and now they are so horrible and you are completely blameless? It doesn't make sense.

2 4Rating: -2

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