An interesting phenomenon occurs when parents divorce. The children in such situations are often the only ones left holding the dreams of the family.
To the adults who enact the decision to divorce, of course there is pain and suffering, but along with this are the awareness and processing skills that comes with adulthood. More than that, however, parents who divorce are able to set about creating “new” lives involving new partners and/or living accommodations. Frequently, for the divorced parents movement is in the forward direction towards the “new”, the horizon of possibilities.
Not so for the children. Children with parents who divorce are not participating in the drama of a new life built on possibilities; their “new life” is too often cobbled together from the broken pieces of what was.
My stepdaughter once said, “It just seems like I was left behind. Mommy and Daddy are happy, but I don’t feel I am part of it.” I told her that I had read about this in several books (the one by Judith Wallerstein was particularly helpful:
She asked me, “Just how much do you read?” I read a lot, and I read about children and divorce because I care. ( I would HIGHLY encourage all parents who divorce to “give reading a chance” and see what insights are out there in relation to children and divorce. They may be surprised 🙂 ).
The sense of being left behind in relation to happiness, especially in relation to their parents, is common in children of divorce. The fact that parents include children in the “new, happy” state they are creating does not seem to completely lessen the sense of loss of these children. They do feel left behind and in some ways, they are left behind, still holding onto the dream of happily ever after.
They are the ones who remain most invested in the fairy tale ending. Why? Because they have experienced its loss.