Remarriage is torture for little kids, literally

I found this comment on a blog post called, “12 Ways to Forgive Your Parents.”

It’s a long hurtful story but I was born into a family that both parents were awful parents! They divorced when I was 5 and we saw things that children shouldn’t see! Still have nightmares! After the divorce my parent both eventually met and had a son on each side! My mom treats this son between her new husband like he is golden so. And loves him all she can! Same thing on my dads side he remarried and had a son and they act like he is gold! Now the son on both sides are grown and it’s all about them and their family! I have 3 other siblings who are very much treated like we are invisible! This week my dad died and all along I thought there might be a chance my dad really loved me but I got my confirmation on he really doesn’t love us! He died this week and left the golden son executor of his will and left him most every thing!

I can so relate to what she’s saying here, except in my case I only have a half-sibling on my mother’s side.

It is extremely difficult to live like that. The parents move on with their lives and leave their prior children to navigate the new chaotic family structure, with its lies, its double standards, its neglect, and its unreciprocated responsibilities, all on their own. As she said, they’re invisible. Being invisible, the prior children have to watch as the parents shower the new children with favor and an intact home, for decades. We know they CAN be good parents because we stand on the sidelines watching them be good parents to the new children. It’s emotional torture and it doesn’t end. It is like being on an emotional “rack,” one of those torture machines that pulls you in two different directions. I am not exagerating to say that it was emotional torture do the back-and-forth thing, pretending half of myself didn’t exist no matter where I was. I made these diagrams a few weeks ago:

mothers life after divorce
The child in the mother’s home. He is attached to both of them and is being pulled in the mother’s direction while with her. At the same time, he has to pretend his father and his family don’t exist.
fathers life after divorce
The child in the father’s home. He is attached to both of them and is being pulled in the father’s direction while with him. At the same time, he has to pretend that his mother and her family don’t exist.

Mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home then mother’s home then father’s home … This insane dynamic goes on and on and on and on…

So going back to the quote above: imagine each parent with a new intact family, one on the left and the other on the right. This gal has to pretend that one-half of herself does not exist regardless of which parent she is with, one-half of herself is rejected and no longer welcome. This explains why her father cut her out of his will, giving everything to the child of his most recent marriage. Anecdotally, I’ve heard quite a few stories like this, so she’s not idiosyncratic. I think kids like us remind our parents of the other parent. So we are rejected in a very real way, but there’s a big lie that we are not.

So all that is terrible, but you know what I think is worse? It’s how certain PhDs, MDs, JDs and religious leaders actually endorse this arrangement. These professionals give cover for divorces and remarriages by saying things like, “It’s all OK, as long as you’re happy, your kids will be happy. Kids are resilient.” BULLSHIT. Kids are fragile and it doesn’t take a fancy degree to understand that. The “rack” never goes away and the remarriages make it worse. It still hurts after all this time and I’m so angry about that!

Educated professionals with fancy degrees from prestigious universities endorse child emotional torture. Look at the diagrams I created above and then tell me how I’m wrong. They have zero credibility in my eyes. They don’t even know the most basic fact about a very young human being: that he is not an automaton and has his own idea of what will make him happy, quite apart from his parents’ ideas of happiness. So I think they should throw their doctorates and ordinations into the trash. They can go back to school and learn from a real teacher, instead of listening to soothsayers who are more concerned with orgasms than children.

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Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I'm writing in order to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I will also discuss problems with other non-triad family structures, since there is a lot of overlap. People often think that better parenting skills will overcome problems in non-triad arrangements. While I agree that parenting skills are important, they cannot overcome the problems I discuss such as fractured ontology and perpetual liminality. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2012, and will discuss Catholic things from time to time as well.

7 thoughts on “Remarriage is torture for little kids, literally”

  1. My sister is divorced. her ex is living with a new woman with a daughter. My sister has tried to remarry on a few occasions which fell through. My poor nephew has been dealing with this since he was 7 years old. He’s 11 now. And he has some major emotional issues. He now lies to his dad about his mom. When he’s with his mom, he lies to her. He plays protector to each parent (his dad is a psychopath though so I’m not saying my sister should have stayed. He was abusive too). It’s pretty awful because they are both abusive in their own right. His dad, more so. But she’s also abusive as she swears and yells on the phone to his dad when he is in the room. It’s just terrible. Anyway, now when he’s with his dad he has to deal with a sibling that wasn’t there before. And that is an added layer to deal with. If he already feels invisible, I can’t imagine competing with another kid for attention. It’s just a sad scenario.

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