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Let's Listen to the Children of Divorce

"I'm so glad you are doing this, Jenny. But I cannot write about my experience. It is still too painful."

"This" refers to the Ruth Institute's Kids Divorce Stories initiative. This completely free and open feature gives people a chance to talk about their childhood experiences, going through their parents' divorces. People talk about what it was like for them when they watched their father walk away for the last time. They write about feeling like second-class citizens within the new reconstituted families. They write about having only one or two photos of themselves with both of their parents, or about watching their mom cut all the photos of their dad out of the family photo album.

"The kids will be fine as long as their parents are happy." "Kids are resilient. They will get over it." These cultural lies are designed to console adults who have decided to leave a low-conflict marriage, or to exonerate adults who have decided to leave their spouses for a new love interest.

Children know that these bromides are lies. Without those lies, there is no way people would allow themselves to disregard their marriage vows. *

So, at Acton University last week, I'm telling people about this new site, "Kids Divorce Stories," and they tell me they are not ready to talk about their experiences. It is too painful.

Some of these people are in their 40's and 50's.

My message to all of you: if you have a story, and can stand it, please come over and tell it. You may not want to experience yourself as a "victim." I get that. Think of yourself as a Survivor instead. Someone who is courageous, and resolute. Someone who wants to help others.

If you have friends who are considering divorce, gently escort them over to our site. Let them see for themselves what it looks like from the child's point of view. Remind them that these writers are mature, sensible people, who are doing ok in life. But they still did not entirely "get over it."

The Ruth Institute has started the Kids Divorce Stories site for one simple reason: this has gone on long enough. It is long past time for the adults of this society to take seriously the fact that divorce is harmful to children.

(*For the record, I am not talking about situations where a marital fault has been committed: adultery, abandonment, abuse or addiction. These "4 A's" count as marital "faults" for which people could get a divorce for "cause" under a fault-based system.)

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the President of the Ruth Institute.

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