Divorce is almost always the most stressful for children. Some are totally blindsided by their parents' divorce, while others had seen it coming for a couple of years already. All too many parents stay in unhappy marriages for the sake of their children's happiness, but countless studies have shown that children whose parents don't want to be with each other aren't any happier than children of divorce.
As true as this fact may be on paper though, the fact remains that many children never recover from the blow of their parents separating. Some are resilient and transition to the new situation quickly, but others are affected on a deeply psychological and behavioral level. A vast majority of kids whose parents divorced go on to feel that they might be a different person if their parents had not divorced. Others dread public events such as birthdays, holidays and major life events, while many more still suffer daily from missing the other parent.
Children of divorce have one thing in common though: they can all vividly remember the moment they found out about their parents’ impending divorce. As these 18 confessions show, some of them had known before their parents realized it themselves.
18 Insightful Beyond Words
This confession just goes to show how hard divorce can be on kids. Not only do the parents not even know that their youngest overheard their conversation about divorcing each other, but there is the added level of the child keeping it a secret from his or her siblings. To not be able to talk about the impending divorce with anyone would certainly make the situation far worse than it actually is, especially since it would wreck the other siblings to know.
That last part is actually a better snapshot into his own feelings on the matter as he is probably assuming that his siblings would feel the same way. Given that he's the youngest, his eldest siblings might actually be able to provide greater comfort and understanding into the situation, so let’s hope he ended up telling them.
17 A Hard-To-Accept Prediction
Having known since being seven years old means that there would have undeniably been a lot of fighting in the household. But even kids who grow up with a lot of fighting and expect their parents to divorce one day still feel betrayed by the news once it finally comes. The “prediction” is nothing to be proud of, especially since it’s likely not one that they would have truly believed in.
Every kid thinks their parents will stay together forever. Even when the parents fight on a daily basis, kids typically still continue to think that they will somehow one day get along and not separate. It’s all understandable, especially when considering the fact that countless couples stay together despite fighting with each other and sometimes even cheating on each other!
16 25 Years Of Lies
No doubt about it, this Whisper user is no mistake. Although the dad has finally decided to come out with the truth that he is gay, it’s almost certain that he loves his kids regardless and doesn’t view them as mistakes. The fact that their dad would have lied to their mother for 25 years is the bigger issue. Wasting someone else’s time while living falsely as a straight person for decades is beyond unacceptable, although it is a situation that will undoubtedly continue to happen to countless families for a while more – at least until the rest of the world catches up to the modern peace love and happiness for all way of thinking.
15 Irreparable Feelings
Not feeling anything as a result of the news of the impending divorce is the number one sign that they would have actually been deeply affected. The same goes for feeling distant afterwards. News such as the parents’ divorce can be incredibly hard to process, even if the child would have known from a young age that it will probably happen one day. The fact that they knew about their father’s infidelity before their mother found out would have made the situation significantly worse as well.
Katie sympathized with her own story: "I'm 18. My mom’s been cheating on my dad for 4 plus years and we all kinda know but nobody says anything. Everyone still lives under the same roof for my little sister. They fight constantly and always blame me for everything wrong."
14 Not Their Decision
This one is sure to ruffle a couple of feathers and create a difference of opinion, as evidenced by the numerous replies it received.
Ryan replied: "Maybe if your mom wasn't so prude, it wouldn't be an issue. All guys watch p---n. Tell her to get off her cross and get over it." As controversial as this reply may be, it’s actually a standpoint that many would agree with.
For her part, Megan counseled: "Keep it to yourself and let your parents continue to enjoy their marriage." But even that advice isn’t any better as placing the responsibility of the parents’ marriage on the children is completely unfair as well. It’s not up to the kid to let his or her parents continue to enjoy their marriage. It is, however, completely up to them to decide whether watching that kind of material is allowed in their marriage or not.
13 Living In A Bubble
While some parents are explosive and can’t help but fight in front of the kids, others are more mindful and do it in hushed tones behind closed doors. As much as exposure to fights and disagreements needs to be toned down in front of the kids, it’s still not any better for the kids. In households where kids would have had absolutely no idea of their parents’ unhappiness, kids would often be taken completely off guard at the news of the looming divorce, feeling unprepared and usually terrified at the impending change.
There is no perfect situation or ways to handle a divorce but keeping kids in the dark doesn’t appear to be a better situation than exposing them to every single fight. One thing is for sure: drawing out the inevitable separation isn’t the way to go either. If it’s not working, it’s best to just get it over with early.
12 More Aware Than We Realize
Speaking of cheating, here’s another Whisper that shows just how common it is for the kids to find out before the other parents does. Unlike others, this one is loaded with shocking layers. Not only was the father cheating while the mother was going through chemotherapy, but he still hasn’t admitted to it and even went on to marry the mistress. As much as there is a slight chance that nothing was going on at the time, the fact remains that the romance would have likely been blossoming. Factors such as these are more than enough to damage the parent-child relationship. Kids see and hear a lot more than parents think (or hope) they do and even at just eight years old, the kid would have certainly caught on to their father’s and the neighbor’s beginning thirsts.
11 Willful Ignorance
Realistically, no kids wants their parent to separate. Even when the fights are relentlessly vicious and happen on a daily basis, children usually still maintain the hope that their parents will all of a sudden see eye to eye and begin to get along. Countless studies have shown that as much as divorce is hard on the kids, it’s even harder when it’s drawn out.
As much as the news that the divorce is finally happening would have been met with a sigh of relief, it would still have been greatly hard to process. Research has also shown that children of divorce fare much better when their exposure to their parents’ disagreements are minimized, which in this case definitely wouldn’t have happened. The kid knew that it would happen, but for how long already would they have been living in a conflicted household?
10 Just As Bad But With A Major Difference
No matter when the divorce happens, it can still be a major blow to the kids – even grown ones! Although we don’t have all the facts, it definitely sounds as though they may not have seen it coming, unlike others from this list that knew one or both parents were cheating or would have been in the middle of daily fights. After thirty years of marriage especially, it can be particularly hard on the children. The only bright side is that already being an adult herself, she would have been able to handle the news a whole lot better than if she would have been under 18 years of age. As heart-wrenching as it would have been, she would have better been able to see the logical reasons behind her parents’ separation.
9 Time To Tell
As difficult as it may be, the truth definitely needs to come out, but the question is how? Instead of going directly to the mom, they should first give the dad a chance to explain himself and tell the mom himself. Despite being illogical, too many parents actually take a situation like this and cast the blame on the child as if they are the ones who “want” to break up the marriage. That obviously couldn’t be further from the truth, but at least if the father is given the chance to fess up, then there is a smaller possibility of the kid getting blamed. But if the father refuses and finds excuses to explain what we can only assume to be infidelities, then there isn’t much else to do than to tell mom.
8 One Of The Worst Ways To Find Out
Telling mom to divorce him isn’t exactly the way to go about it, but this one still presents all the same problems as the previous one. Not only could the mom refuse to believe the evidence, but it might have for effect to create a huge rift between them. At the same time, the thought of confronting dad with the evidence wouldn’t be something that they might want to do either.
There isn’t much winning in a situation like this, but it’s clear that the parents will likely divorce one day. It’s even worse that the kid had to find out this way and for sure not a way that the dad would have wanted to come out. Then again, just because was looking at gay dating sites, doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s only into men as he might just be swinging for both sides. Still, there is the issue of him being on a dating site when he’s married.
7 Just As Tough
Whether you’re 5, 15 or 25, finding out that your parents are going to be divorcing is never easy. It’s especially hard if nothing over the years pointed towards that eventuality. It’s easy to envision that parents who fought regularly and viciously would one day go their separate ways, but not all fighting couples divorce. The same goes for seemingly peaceful couples. Sometimes, the connection just isn’t there no matter how much you might try despite getting along from a parenting and married standpoint.
But whether the divorce happens after tons of fights or none at all, both are usually total blindsides for the children. Kids usually think that their parents will stay together forever and as utopian of a dream that is, it’s simply not possible for everyone.
6 Always Watching
This one is slightly confusing because technically speaking, there is no way that they could have never known about the divorce. It’s probably not so much about the divorce in general, but about the moment that it happened. Did the kid in question overhear a fight during which they talked about divorce or the moment that they were signing the papers? Whichever the situation may be, it just goes to show that even when we don’t think they are, kids are always watching us and listening to our every word.
They're little parrots after all and learn their behaviors from us. The bigger issue with this one is that the parents wouldn’t have realized that their kid, on the other side of the wall, would have been in need of some major reassuring.
5 Dragging It Out
The fact that this kid wrote that their parents “finally separated” speaks volumes. Whisper confessions don’t allow for much detail, but it’s unmistakable that this kid’s adolescent life would have been very hard. From 12-17 years old, their parents would have undoubtedly been fighting relentlessly, especially since “it got really messy” right before they finally separated.
Stories like this just go to show how there is no point of living a life of misery together. If you’re not happy and fighting every day, “staying for the kids” isn’t actually doing anything for them. In fact, it’s just making things worse, especially when taking into consideration the numerous studies that have proven that although children of divorce are affected in the short run, they recover quickly enough after the initial blow.
4 Kept In The Dark
Every relationship, whether married or not, goes through extreme highs and lows. It’s just the nature of the game and although separation is a word that should never be thrown out off-handedly, too many couples unfortunately resort to seemingly saying that it’s over, when they don’t actually want to end things just yet.
The same goes for going all the way to drafting custody documents or consulting a divorce lawyer. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to resort to that, but after taking some time to cool off, then most couple actually stay together. We all have our moments and the bigger mistake here is that the parents didn’t shield their kid from seeing a low point in their relationship. Although the parents would have decided to stay together, it would have been tremendously harder on the kid not to know when and if their parents would be separating.
3 Deceiving Appearances
Out of all the stories on the list, this one received the most replies and sympathies. Jaquie replied: "I'm so sorry for you! That happened to me as well! I thought my parents would never split up. It completely shattered my world. And since I was older, they thought they could put me in the middle of it."
Tania shared: "I was 18 when my dad told me. I was sad and confused like you. Until I found out that my dad was in love with another woman. He was just really good at acting like he still loved my stepmom."
Is it a blessing that her parents would have shielded her from their disagreements? It’s possible that they didn’t even disagree per say, but just didn’t have that connection between them.
2 Never A Good Idea
Staying together "for the kids" is never a good idea. It may seem logical to try to keep the family intact and together, but when you’re at each other’s’ throats every single day, then it actually makes thing worse for the kids. Knowing that their parents didn’t want to be together since they were eight years old would have made it even harder. In this case though, how old is “old enough” and what exactly determines that?
Rather than waiting until the kids are over 18 years old and possibly moved out of the house, numerous studies have actually shown that it’s more beneficial to get it over with early on. While it’s difficult for any child to process in the beginning, in the long term it’s much easier to get accustomed to, rather than having to deal with constant unhappiness in the household.
1 Misplaced Guilt
As Anna wrote: "You were young and not responsible for their marriage. Your mom should carry the guilt, not you. You did nothing wrong."
This confession is the perfect example of how difficult one parent’s infidelities can be on both the marriage and the children. It can be easy to think that young kids don’t understand what is going on, but the fact of the matter is that they understand a great deal more than we think. In this case, especially, it’s particularly worse that the kid would have known about it without understanding it. The better question is: are their parents still together? They say that they watched their parents’ marriage “fall apart” but not necessarily that they separated. One thing is clear though: it’s absolutely not the child’s fault.