Our Kids' Reaction to Our Separation: A Case Study
When Henry left his wife for another woman, his wife Natasha was devastated. Henry moved out of the family home and moved in with his new girlfriend, Anita. Natasha lost a lot of weight and was understandably angry and very hurt by what had happened. Their two children, Kate and Mark, aged 11 and 13 respectively, seemed to deal with the separation very well, but Henry always felt that his children were trying to be strong in front of him because Natasha was taking it so badly.
Henry carried on paying the mortgage on his and Natasha’s home, and Natasha, who hadn’t worked since Mark had been born, got an office job. As Henry was an estate agent, things went from bad to worse when he lost his job when the recession hit.
Christmas HolidaysHenry spent several months looking for a new job, all the while eating into his savings. When Christmas Day came, he felt dreadful about not spending the day with his children and Natasha, but knew that he was now with the right woman, Anita. He could not afford to buy his kids the things that he wanted to, either.
A New JobWhen he did finally find a new job his savings were all but gone, but he was relieved to be earning again. Although Natasha was beginning to get over the break up of her marriage, Henry could not shake an overwhelming sense of guilt over the fact that he’d broken up what had generally been a very happy family unit. He knew he didn’t want to be with Natasha anymore, but he could not reconcile himself with what he had done and it began to impact on his new relationship. Anita worked hard to keep the two of them together. Henry saw his children every other weekend, but missed them terribly. He laughed and joked with his friends that he felt that he missed them more than they missed him, but deep down he felt as though he was losing them.
Henry’s GuiltHenry resolved to make every weekend when he had his kids as exciting and fun-filled as possible. He took them to theme parks, camping trips, weekends away fishing and to far flung places all over the UK (see Making The Most of Your Time With Your Child). Every other Sunday he returned the children to Natasha exhausted. While Henry spent every spare penny on his children, he was also returning to work on Monday tired and drained, and full of guilt. Anita, who Natasha had banned from ever meeting the children, spent every other weekend alone. She and Henry began to argue about the amount of money he was spending on his children because they were trying to save money to buy a house together. (Read Buying Presents for Your Kids on this site.)
The Turning PointOne weekend when Harry went to pick up his children from Natasha, his daughter refused to come out of her bedroom. Harry was distraught. Natasha took him to one side and explained that she had said she loved seeing her dad at the weekends, but ‘do we always have to go somewhere?’ Blinded by his guilt, Harry hadn’t realised that his children genuinely looked forward to seeing their father, rather than being taken on huge adventures every weekend. After that, Henry and Natasha had a long talk and Natasha allowed Henry to introduce Anita to the children. Now, although Henry and Natasha are divorced, Henry spends every other weekend with his children at the flat that he and Anita share. They go to the cinema, out to restaurants, have picnics and take long walks with Anita’s new puppy – but he’s doing what the kids want most – being a dad.
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