Through attending many meetings with divorced parents, I have realized that one message speaks louder than all of the rest. After making the difficult decision to get a divorce, parents always tell me the same thing regarding their feelings toward their child or adolescent experiencing the breakup: “I love my child more than anything in the world. I feel terrible he/she has to go through this experience. I only want what is best for both myself and for my child.” I can see in their eyes, a love and concern that goes beyond anything that I am able to describe. At this time, many of these parents begin their own road to self-discovery, motivated by the love and compassion they have for their children.
When meeting with parents for the first time, many of them feel overwhelmed, nervous and confused by the many facts and statistics they have read related to children and divorce. I always tell these parents, “The truly important thing is that you are here, now. You have decided to make a commitment to receiving the help and support that both you and your child needs. In doing this, you have conquered half of the battle.”
Recognizing the need to seek out new information and help can be scary. Seeking outside assistance from a so called “stranger” gives some people the impression that they are “airing out their dirty laundry.” It has been my experience, especially in the area of children and adolescents, that when parents make the decision to seek out help for their children, they are sending them an important message: “I love and care about your so much and because of this, I am sending you to a trustworthy person who will be able to support you through this tough transition.”
Although at first, a child or adolescent may resist interventions, it soon becomes clear to them that their parent’s are doing this because they love them. They begin to feel wanted and important. They begin to feel as if they have a voice of their own. Their identity becomes much stronger and they are able to separate themselves from their parent’s divorce. Motivated by love, when parents seek help, they witness the beginning of the healing process, both for themselves as well as for their children.