Research shows that divorce impacts children well into their adult years. In fact Judith Wallerstein and her colleagues identified a “sleeper effect” where many children of divorce don’t even experience the full impact of the their parents’ divorce until years later as they become adults themselves. That said, there are very few resources available designed specifically for adult children of divorce. Chained No More is one of the very few resources written specifically to address the issues experienced by adult children of divorce.
After years of working with younger children of divorce and teen children of divorce, Robyn Besemann felt led to develop a program:
“…for the adult children of divorce to help them explore and address the issues connected with the divorce of their parents and other childhood brokenness.”
Divorce brings all kinds of changes into your life. Some changes are obvious. You no longer live in the same house with both your mom and your dad. Maybe you spend most of your time at one parents’ house and visit the other parents’ house every other weekend, or maybe you split your week between two houses. Sometimes one parent moves far away and most of your contact with them will be by phone or e-mail. In some cases, children of divorce don’t see one of their parents very often or at all. There are many other potential changes. You might have moved out of your house following the divorce and live in a brand new house or apartment. Maybe you go to a brand new school or you’re in a living in a new neighborhood or going to a new church.
Some changes in your life are not obvious. Other people probably don’t even notice these types of changes in your life at all, but you probably do. Maybe your family had a special Christmas tradition before the divorce that you no longer get to do. Perhaps you used to sit down every Saturday morning as a family for a pancake breakfast with dad that doesn’t happen anymore since the divorce. Maybe it’s as simple as missing how Dad used to stop by your bedroom door every night and tell you “Sweet Dreams” as you were drifting off to sleep. All of these little things may not seem important by themselves, but they form an important part of what we see as “normal.” We call these little things that you’ve gotten used to rituals and routines and they define what “normal” is to us.
One important things that you can do after a divorce to help things get back to “normal” is to come up with some new rituals and routines to engage in with your family. They may not be the same rituals and routines from before the divorce, but they can be just as fun and with time they will become just as important to you. You’ll need to come up with some rituals and routines that work for you and you family, but here are some suggestions:
If you live with your Mom, perhaps you and your Dad can exchange “good night” text messages every evening.