Divorce is something that happens between parents, not a child. However, it is often the child who is most affected. Adult children of divorce live with a special kind of fear: anything can break the love between two people and most of the time you don’t see it coming. Not every divorce is obvious. Without the security of a blatant reason for a parent’s love to end, a child is left with a particular insecurity. What causes two people to stop loving each other? What causes someone to leave? Each step becomes when of fear when a child of divorce grows up and starts engaging in romantic partnerships. Every fight is terrifying. The fear of not knowing what could be wrong, what could cause them to leave, is paralyzing. Some children of divorce grow up to be codependent and needy while others become counter-dependent and avoidant to love.
Navigating Healthy Relationships
A critical component of the child of divorce’s difficulty in navigating healthy relationships as an adult is because they weren’t set a good example in their youth. Rather than grow up as the loving center of a family, a child becomes more part of a business deal in a legal settlement. Custody battles, communication- a child becomes less of a person and more of a tool. Few divorce settlements go smoothly and amicably. Spouses who remain healthy and supportive friends after divorce are few and far between. Children who grew up in divorce usually witness fights, threats, court battles, screaming phone calls, and more. The people who they used to know to love each other suddenly seem to hate each other. What could love possibly be, then?
Do Not Fear Love
Part of the challenge is learning to not be in fear of love. Losing a marriage or a relationship is not the end of the world. For children of divorce, it is important to work with a therapist to understand the layers of fear and issues that have risen from their experience of the divorce. Adults shouldn’t base their ideals of love on their unhealthy parents but find new inspirational sources for the relationships they want to have. Instead of assume they can’t have a relationship like that, they can be inspired to find out how they can have a relationship like that.
Avalon By The Sea believes family healing is an essential part of recovery. We welcome family members to counseling sessions and family weekends. You can heal from the pain of divorce. For a private consultation and more information on our residential treatment programs, call 1 888-958-7511.