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The Struggle Of Talking About Divorce With My Teenagers

The circumstances surrounding my divorce aren’t altogether pleasant. There was a great deal of emotional and verbal abuse. For a time, there was also some physical abuse. Obviously, these were the main reasons for my leaving, but there were a thousand others that led to my decision. Ultimately, I knew that my relationship wasn’t what I wanted for myself, nor was it the example of marriage that I wanted for my three daughters. I’m a big believer in love. Real love. I wanted them to know that it could be so much better.

My Divorce Experience

My daughters have a good enough relationship with their dad, though they have recently expressed some difficulties with his ability to communicate and listen. I have always been very careful to avoid negative comments about him and at the same time offer them my compassion.

My middle child was five years old when we separated and she took it the hardest. She does have similarities to her father and they were pretty close, sharing a lot of the same interests: a love for animals, nature and science. As you can imagine, she had a rough time and there were moments when she made it clear that she resented me for the circumstances, since I was the one who left.

In my effort to protect the relationship they had with their father, I never shared the reasons for the divorce. But in doing so, I believe that I created a giant question mark in my middle daughter’s life that affected her much more deeply than I realized. I discovered this a few nights ago during a long and rare mother/daughter talk. She asked me to tell her exactly why I had divorced her dad. I could see the earnestness in her eyes and I knew that she truly needed to have a solid answer to this part of her life.

Talking About Divorce With My Daughter

Miraculously, the words came easily for me and I managed to explain why I couldn’t stay in the marriage anymore without affecting the love and respect that she has for her dad. It was a beautiful moment and we talked until we could no longer hold our eyes open. We became closer in that exchange, understanding each other a little more. She saw me as a woman and not just as her mom; I saw her as a mature 13-year-old who is capable of understanding and accepting life in a way I would have never expected.

What I learned in that moment of honesty was that protecting our kids is important, and I am glad that I waited until she was older to explain everything. But I also learned that my kid loves me. I mean, she doesn’t just love me because I’m her mom; she truly wants me to be happy. She was sad to hear that I hadn’t been okay and understood my decision to give her a happy mom in a safe home. And she thanked me.

As moms, we spend so much time caring for our children, protecting them, preparing them, and teaching them about the real world. Their happiness becomes paramount. The focus is almost always on everyone else first and ourselves last. It never really occurred to me that my happiness was equally important to my children. They have always been sweet and loving to me, thank me for the things I do for them, and respect me. This was different, though. I saw that she was genuinely invested in me as a person and not just the lady who cooks dinner and makes sure her clothes are clean. It was awesome.

Marisa McCrae

Marisa McCrae is the mother of three girls, two teens and one up and coming. She lives in Georgia and enjoys sharing her life with others through blogging.