Dr. Pickhardt’s book for parents and children on the topic of divorce, The Case of the Scary Divorce.
Feeling an integral part of the parental marriage to a degree multiple children in a family usually do not, the only child often reacts to parental divorce more intensely because he or she has so much to lose.
There are six common losses an only child can experience from divorce, but parents can help the child through the painful transition he or she is required to make.
1. LOSS OF UNDERSTANDING Divorce takes the only child from a well known into an unknown situation where ignorance begins to ask all kinds of scary questions. “Why are my parents doing this?”
2. LOSS OF CONTROL Divorce is a decision made by the parents, not by the child. It shows the child how little control over family he or she actually has. For the only child who has been used to being consulted in major family decisions, he or she can feel extremely helpless in response. “They used to treat me like an equal, like another adult, but now they have all the say and I have none because I’m just a child! What I think or what I want doesn’t matter anymore!”
3. LOSS OF CONNECTION Divorce not only ends the parents’ marriage, it ends the only child’s felt partnership in that relationship. This double loss can cause deep grief. “We won’t be a family anymore.”
4. LOSS OF TRUST Divorce is a broken promise, violating an only child’s expectation that parents are committed to maintaining the unity of marriage and family. Because divorce can be experienced as a betrayal, the child may become angry at parents and himself/herself.
5. LOSS OF ACCEPTANCE Divorce changes family definition for the only child. Instead of living with both parents in one place, now he or she lives with each one separately, going back and forth between two living places that are supposed to feel like home.
6. LOSS OF CONFIDENCE In resisting parental divorce, the only child will often try to keep mother and father together. The child may honestly believe that he or she should have the power to stop the fighting, heal the hurts, and make parents happy with each other again.
*To read full article purchase Only Child Vol. 2 No. 2.