What do you think about this scenario?
Bobby is eleven years old and is in 6th grade. His parents have been together for over 13 years, but have always had a very hard relationship. They managed to stay together for Bobby and his sister, thinking it would benefit them. However, they have trouble being around each other and fight constantly. When they start fighting, Bobby and his sister run to their room and he tries to occupy his sister to distract her. Bobby has recently noticed more and more yelling between his mom and dad and he doesn’t know what is happening between them.
Just last week, Bobby's parents told his sister and him they are getting a divorce. Bobby is scared and sad because he is used to having both parents at home. He is trying to figure out what to do, and how can he deal with such a new reality.
Questions for Discussion:
1. Can Bobby understand the reasoning behind his parents separation? Do you think he blames himself? How would you feel?
2. Do you think Bobby can try to convince his parents to stay together? Should he try?
3. What are the pros and cons of his parents getting divorced? What could be positive about it?
4. How might the divorce change Bobby's relationship with his parents?
5. What could his parents do to make this easier for Bobby?
6. What other emotions do you think Bobby is feeling? Should he talk to someone about them? Who?
Studies reveal that children who are raised in a two person, loving, and stable environment show less signs of depression, anxiety, and defiant behavior and these children also have better academics and develop the capacity for truly intimate relationships. Children raised in a stressful and conflicted marriage are more stressed, have more defiant behavior, and have more disciplinary problems than children raised in a stable divorced or stable single parent home.
Studies also have shown that children can do better when their parents get divorced. Sometimes they live a healthier life than when their parents lived together in a continuous state of conflict, instability, argumentation, hatred, and uncertainty.
Many people marry out of love and divorce out of anger. Unfortunately, children become the victims of marital war. Regardless of the decision, it is important to remember that when children are involved – both parents will be involved in some capacity for all of the activities, decisions, and emotional consequences that affect the entire family moving forward.
The goal of any decision is to develop a cordial and harmonious relationship with a partner. And that is always in the children's best interest.
Divorce can be an emotionally exhausting experience. It is important to take into account how the stress and heightened emotions can affect everyone in the family, especially the children.
What Mentors Can Do to Help With This?
Talk to your mentee and help him/her understand the pros and cons of a divorce. Try to see the divorce from the perspective of everyone involved so your mentee can have a better understanding of why this is happening and that it is not because of them.
Make sure that the mentee understands that this decision to divorce is not something that is under his/her control, but that he/she should talk to his parents about how it is making him/her feel as a part of the family.
Explain to the mentee that parents staying married only because of kids can result in an overall bad experience.
Try to be a source of stability during a potentially stressful, sad, and confusing phase in your mentee’s life.
Allow your mentee to talk to you about the situation and try to just listen and comfort rather than fix. Remind them that you are a safe person to talk to and acknowledge how hard this must be for them.
If you have personal experience with divorce share it with them so they know they are not alone, but be appreciative of how their experience is different and highly personal.