The recent public display of acrimony between Christie Brinkley and her ex husband Peter Cook reminds us of what goes wrong with divorce.
How does it affect their two teenage children?
1. When you criticize your child's parent, you criticize your child's DNA. Our children rightfully feel that they are drawn from both of their parents. If a child hears something negative about her parent, she identifies herself in the same negative way. After all, parents and children are one and the same.
2. Adolescence is an unstable time. A teen is already trying to manage hormonal and physical changes. Add parents who are publicly spiteful and it becomes overwhelming for any teen.
3. Teens are supposed to be falling in love. What a severe disturbance to this natural process when they see their once-in-love parents publicly humiliating each other and their children. It makes a teen distrust love and intimacy.
4. Kids of divorce crave privacy. They may feel ashamed that their family could be seen as "broken" and unfixable. This causes many children to withhold from discussing their issues with anyone -- even friends -- for fear of being seen as the "other." Imagine your dirty family laundry let out for all to see and wondering if kids at school are whispering behind your back about the divorce.
5. Kids of divorce must have a place to express their feelings. Healing comes through loving connections and the ability to express our feelings. When a child hears her parent insult the other parent, the child loses the ability to confide with the parent who made the remarks. The child now fears that sharing her issues will incite an explosion or, worse, that the parent will betray her confidence and speak about it publicly. Therefore, that child sadly loses her ability to express her feelings to the two most important people in her life. Children experience problems when they can't express themselves in healthy ways
Please, give your children the confidence that, although your marriage did not work out, your life as parents is secure. Your children's lives really do depend on it.