Emotional Burden of Divorce


An adult child shares the emotional burden of parental divorce. She punished her parents and developed maladaptive coping skills to deal with the pain. Anger and disappointment in parents may be part of the process. Sometimes this leads to more dependence on self and protecting themselves from emotional hurt in intimate relationships. As a parent, this individual is determined to stay married and not to ‘let them down as they experienced.


I was 11 and 12 when my parents divorced and separated.  I engaged in minor acts of rebellion to “punish” both my mother and father in ways specifically intended to make each of them feel as bad as possible. (for example, for my mother I broke things I had made as a child which she treasured). I also pulled away from both of them and stopped talking to them about things that happened in my life. This probably is a natural part of being that age anyway, but it was certainly accelerated by the divorce.

I am now in my 30s, and looking back I can see that this has impacted on different aspects of my personality which are still present now. Not all of it is negative – having a chip on my shoulder has I think helped me do well in school and later professionally, but my tendency to withdraw when I am uncomfortable and not let people in does not do me favors. I have kids now, and I am determined not to “let them down” as I was.

#286, Emotional Burden of Divorce

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