For many parents who live in conflict, divorce is not the worst thing that can happen to children. For many children in high-conflict households, divorce can bring relief if it ends the exposure to fighting. In fact, for parents who are able to get along post-divorce, children of divorced parents do very well growing up in two households.
However, one common loss for children of divorced households, is that the retelling of family stories stopped with the divorce. The memories from early childhood were not repeated, and hence not remembered. There is a sort of family amnesia.
If you are preparing for divorce, remember to tell your child the stories of their childhood. Tell your child the story of bringing them home from the hospital, the stories about their development (walking and talking), the stories about the other parent loving the child, too. Reinforce those memories, so they don’t fade away. Take care to mention the other parent without coloring it with the negative feelings that divorce can bring. The other parent is a valuable part of that child’s history, present and future. You both will continue to be your child’s family. Your child needs to know it’s okay to talk about each with the other. Past memories of happier times should be valued and remembered fondly. It’s good for you to remember this, too.
These days, every moment is captured with our pocket cameras, and those pictures can be helpful, too, for telling stories. Don’t erase the pictures of your child with your ex. Let them have those pictures and the stories that go with them. If they want a picture for their room, pick out a frame together.
Stories tell us who we are. Don’t stop telling your children their own stories. They are precious to your children. Honor your family stories.