A Childís Heart of Darkness

Being a child of divorce I tend to make observations about people who have been through a divorce, who are going through one or have parents who have been through one. I notice that children who are younger when this dramatic experience occurs tend to understand it better in the long run. But compared to older children (high school age), they seem to take it somewhat harder. Classifying their reactions by age helps others to better understand how they differ. Age has a big part in how a person will react to a dramatic experience.
Children of divorce can react many different ways to this sudden change in their lifestyle. And that is exactly what it is, a change that flips your world upside down and never lets it be the same again. My parents were divorced when I was three. All I really remember was when I was first told my parents werenít going to be living together anymore, that my father was going to be living with a another woman, and lying in bed every night crying my eyes out until my mom came to check on me. I didnít fully understand of why my parents got divorced, and I never expressed the way I was feeling. My reaction that caused me the most pain was that all my feelings were bottled up inside me.
This reaction happens to a lot of younger children. Their bottled up emotions turn to anger. They end up taking it out on siblings, friends, and parents. This situation is such a change in their comfortable lifestyle that they donít know what to do with themselves. They may feel lost or out of place in their home and might try to runaway. Children may do irrational things to get their parentsí attention, including uncontrollable crying, destroying toys or parentsí valuables, or hurting other people. They donít understand their behavior or exactly what is causing it. They feel the hurt and sometimes this is the only way to deal with it.
Other children may want to exclude themselves from the world. They may become temporarily mute or want to hide in their room. They have yet to understand their own feelings of loss and heartache and donít want to share all the things that are going in their head. Their reactions may take them years to fully understand. They also may affect their lives forever.
As a college student I have met peers whose parents divorced when they were children and others who have suffered this experience recently. Many young adults whose parents have been divorced for a long time have come to realize why it happened and put into place the emotions that they went through. They are able to understand the different stages that the divorceís stress had them overcome. They know the feeling of losing a parent, the anger they might have had inside them, and the guilt they had to work through. They can see these things in people whose parents have recently got a divorce. They also can help people to better understand what they are going through.
College students who have recently gone through a divorce still donít fully understand what is going on. They feel the loss greater now since they realize their life is starting and they donít want the past to slow them down. This can cause a lot of guilt to build. They may understand the circumstances better but not how the family scenario will be different. This is especially true for students who went away to college. When they go home to visit, it is hard seeing only one parent at a time. College is stressful enough; not having your parents together to greet you at the front door makes it worse.
The way a person deals with stress can make all the difference. Some may be able to talk about what they are feeling and work out problems with someone else. Others may just keep it to themselves and act out in different ways. They may be very angry all the time or withdraw from their friends or act normal until it all comes out at once. Having to deal with this extra stress may cause