Breaking The News To The Children
I wanted to share this moving account sent to me by a mother who ‘broke the news’ to the children at a family meal, of the possible impending divorce between her and their father.
The names have been changed, of course, as the journey is still ongoing – but it fills me with awe at the courage and generosity of spirit that parents often show during the traumatic process of family separation, but which is too rarely applauded.
I wanted to tell you how I told the children on Sunday. I made a beautiful roasted chicken Sunday lunch. Set the table with a rose from the garden, napkins and best cutlery. Set the lighting – a flickering candle – and made everything beautiful.
We sat about to eat and my eldest (let’s call him Nick) started picking at his food… sensing, as children do, the tension at the table. Anticipation – but of what?
I said: “Let’s hold hands.”
My husband (Nathan) and I held hands for the first time in weeks. This was a special occasion. Nathan took Nick’s hand and Nick took his younger brother Bobby’s hand – and I held Bobby’s other hand to close the loop. I asked everyone to look at the flame, twitching with our combined breaths as we faced the source of the light.
I said: “Let’s give thanks to whoever and whatever your higher being is, for the gift of family. For each other. For the fact that the four of us make a circle a circle that can never be broken. We are all 25% a quarter of this family. We are all equally important. Your father and I love you both and are proud of you. You share our same blood and DNA – we are all specially connected, forever. Nothing can change that.“
By now I definitely had the kids attention!
I said it won’t have escaped their notice that things between Dad and I have been strained and difficult… I said I am so sorry for the sadness and difficulties that they have witnessed. Nick asked: “Are you going to get divorced?”
I replied: “Nick, I can’t answer that as we are now in a process of reorganising our family and Dad and I have meetings and lots of homework to do to see what can be done.” I explained that it took 13 years to get to this point, it is not going to get fixed just like that.”
The concept that a family doesn’t ‘break’ – but that it instead re-forms, realigns, into a new form, came from my discussions with Divorce Strategist Suzy Miller. I added to that with the candle – which I always associate from church as a symbol of peace. It made real sense to me, to put those ideas together to help us on our new journey to transition into a new family form, in a peaceful way. I was really pleased with how it went and it seemed to offer a big release, to all of us.
After the meal, we ended up playing 9 games of UNO to much hilarity. Nick came back to us at bedtime and said:
“Mum…. Dad – about what you said. I just want to say I really hope you can work things out. More than a nerf gun, an iPad or anything else in the whole world – I would like that.”
Bless his wee heart…. I felt such a deep sadness. But also hope. Part of my ‘divorce strategy’ is to “stay brave and beautiful”.
Stay brave and beautiful. I like the sound of that.