In Our Childrens’ Own Words

Despite playing a major role in the family dynamic, our children have little control over the outcome of changed living situations or the new post-divorce lifestyle.  It’s important for our children to be able to express themselves and have their voice heard.  

Post divorce interview with child of divorce and coparenting

Below are the transcripts of interviews conducted with our two daughters.  The intent was to obtain their thoughts and feelings regarding their current living situation, and the ability for my ex and me to co-parent effectively.  My hope is that this will give you a glimpse into the thoughts and emotions that children are dealing with when their parents divorce, and no longer live together.  

The following is a transcript of an interview I conducted with our 10 year-old and 7 year-old daughters.  Their responses are a direct view into the mindset of co-parented children, their emotions, and what matters to them.  I found their responses to be revealing, and surprisingly insightful; I hope you will too. The questions are in bold text and responses are in italics.

Our 10 Year-Old Daughter

If you could change anything about your current living situation (weekly exchange between two homes), what would it be?

I wish we could see each other one-day-on-one-day-off so I wouldn’t have to miss anyone.

What is the worst thing about Mom and Dad being divorced?

Probably the fact that I don’t get to see you guys both each day.

What don’t you like about having to live in two homes, alternating week-to-week?

I don’t like the fact that we have to switch so frequently (well not that frequently) but the switch is a little hard that first night.  And it’s also a little hard because it can get a little annoying having to collect and move all that stuff between mom and dads. 

Anything else?  

Not really, it’s not that bad it’s mainly just missing you and Mom.

Can you think of any good things or benefits about your living arrangement?

I like the extra Santa presents and I like the fact that we get to sleep in two different houses and it’s kind’a fun because you get to sleep in two different houses.  I guess I do like alone time with you guys too – it can be kind’a nice, or good and bad too. Occasionally, you miss the other parent but it’s nice to have some alone time with them.

What do you dislike about the way Mom and Dad interact, or talk with each other?

I can tell sometimes in your voices that you’re just annoyed with each other.  Every now and then Mom says your name like you guys just get irritated with each other.  

Does it happen often?  

Every once in a while; mainly when the other one is not there.  Every once in a while you guys have some pretty strong disagreements about things.  

Do you think if we were still married we would have similar disagreements?

 Probably, pretty much the same – everyone argues.

What else don’t you like?  

Your talks are very short and to the point, and then you just leave.  You never have any very deep conversations that don’t have any swear words in it.  

Why do you think that is, that your Mom and I don’t speak for a long time?  

Because you guys don’t like each other very much.  

What makes you think we don’t?  

Normally when two people swear at each other, they aren’t really best friends.  

Swear at each other?  

Every now and then Mom or you will go into the garage and I hear – and I don’t really know if you’re saying them at each other or the situation.  

How often does that happen? 

Every two months maybe… It’s not that often really.  It makes us feel like it’s our fault.

Why does it make you feel like it’s your fault? 

I don’t know.  Because most of the stuff you argue about are related to us in some way – so we’re like, wow, we started that.  

Do you think arguments are different from those of a married couple?  

Honestly, I don’t remember when you guys were together very much.  I don’t really remember you guys fighting with each other in the garage, but if you were a really bad couple, maybe.  

What could we do differently?  

Try to remain calm and do it when we’re asleep so we don’t know it’s happening. So we don’t listen in and think, oh gosh, that’s probably our fault. 

Why would it be your fault?  

Like I said, normally, you fight because it’s about money or health stuff for us.

What do you like the most about the way Mom and Dad interact or talk to each other?

I like that straight to your face you don’t glare at each other like you despise each other – you try to get along as best as you can.  

Anything else?  

On most things you’re able to agree to some point, and you don’t make terrible decisions either, you know.  

Do you think we try to cooperate?  

Yeah as best as you guys can.  I mean, you guys don’t really fight that badly. 

Over time, have you noticed less fighting between us?  

About the same, but you try your best to get along in front of us. 

So you notice that?  

Yeah. 

What does that mean to you?  How does that make you feel? 

It makes me feel pretty good. But actually, even if you had the choice you probably wouldn’t talk to each other ever again.  

How do Mom and I try hard to cooperate with one another?

Well, you try your best not to fight face to face, and you also try to make decisions without arguing about it.  And, you always try to do what’s best for us.  

How do you know that?  

Because you love me.  

How do you know?  

Because you say you love me.  

Are there any other ways we try to cooperate?  

Hmmmm… Not really, aside from you trying not to fight much.

Why do you feel that you are, or are not, a part of a family?

I feel like I am part of a family because everyone tells me they love me and I feel loved. 

So, despite living between two houses, you still feel loved by us both? 

Yeah.

What is hard about transitioning between Mom’s house and Dad’s house?

The fact that you have to say goodbye to the other parent for like a week.  And it’s a little hard to get your stuff together and hauled to the other parent…  And we have to wake up early.  

How do Mom and Dad try to stay connected with you when away?

Like texting and stuff? Like KIK, and Skype, and you call us.  If we won’t see you for a while you might give us something that we can take to the other person’s house.  

Is there something we could do better?  

I think you guys, for the situation, do your best for all we have.  I think that’s pretty much all you can do.  

Do you feel like we would be with you always if we could?  

You would be with me, but every once in a while you would go because you have a life too.  Like one day without you wouldn’t kill me, too, if you want to do something for yourself.

– End of Interview –

Our 7 Year-Old Daughter

If you could change anything about your current living situation (moving weekly between two homes), what would it be?

To make you guys both live together.  

What else, anything else?  

And you wouldn’t fight so much. 

Do you think Mom and Dad fight a lot?  

Usually whenever we see you guys you have something to fight about.  

Is that really the case?  What do we say when we fight? 

 I don’t know.

What makes you think we fight a lot?  

A lot of the time you get mad at each other.  

Can you give example?  When was last time we fought?  

I don’t know the date… um…

What is the worst thing about mom and dad being divorced?

Uh, I don’t get to see you both; I always miss you guys.  

Is that it?  

Yeah

What don’t you like about having to live in two homes, alternating week-to-week?

Sometimes when, like let’s say I didn’t have a stuffed animal or a picture at your house, and I was at Mom’s house, and I really wanted it.  

So when you forget something?  

Yeah sometimes, like I always forget the picture of Mom.  

So, how could Mom and I make the situation?  What could we do to make that better?  

Um… I don’t know.  Sometimes I don’t know if you’re okay.

Can you think of any good things or benefits about your living arrangement?

I like about getting double presents. [Laughs]  Other than that, I don’t know.  

Is that all you can think of?  

Yeah.

What do you dislike about the way Mom and Dad interact or talk to each other?

Uh… I just don’t like when you guys fight.  

Do you really feel that we fight a lot?  

[Nods] (Yes)

Do you think we would fight the same amount if we were still married?  

[Shakes head] (No)

What do you like the most about the way Mom and Dad interact or talk to each other?

Uh… I don’t know.  [Smiling/Giggling]  

Can you think of anything?  

Not really.

How do Mom and Dad try hard to cooperate with one another?

Sometimes, um, when you buy presents you work together to find them.  

What occasions?  

Sometimes like Christmas.  

How does it make you feel when we work together?  

Happy.  

Why?  

Because you’re working together on stuff.  

Do you think there’s anything else that we work together on?  

I don’t have an answer.

Why do you feel that you are, or are not, a part of a family?  Do you feel like you’re part of a family?  

I don’t know what you mean.  

Like other families, where the parents are still married and have children?  Like that?  

Uh… Yeah. 

Do you feel like we’re still a family?  

Oh… Mom, you, and (older sister)?  I don’t know. I never really think about it.  Kind of.  

What is hard about transitioning between houses?

Like when I leave your house I miss you at Mom’s house.  So, then it’s just I don’t like switching much, because then I miss the person I was with.  But the good thing is that I see the other person. But I miss the person I was with. Like the only time I feel not like that, is when you’re both together.

 When are we together? 

Like, basically, when we’re about to switch off, or like Christmas or something. 

When we’re all together in the same place?  

Yeah, like Christmas or at birthday parties, when we’re all in the same place.

How do Mom and Dad try to stay connected with you when we’re not together?

Calling each other on the phone.  And like, remember, that one time it was a long, long time ago, when Mom was about to leave, and you let me go to her house because I really, really missed her?  Remember it?  

I think so.  

I was younger, like 5 or something.  

So it was good that I let you do that?  

Yeah, ‘cuz I really, really missed her then.

– End of Interview –

It’s important for you to understand that at the time these interviews were done, my ex and I had already been making a concerted effort to co-parent cooperatively.  Even so, you can see from some of the comments that our daughters made, that they were still picking up on some tension or hostility between us. Even when trying to carefully hide it, your kids will still see the non-verbal cues and feel the tension that exists between you and your ex.  You and your children will be better off when you let go of the hostilities between you and your ex. Again, you don’t have to be buddies with your ex, but actively despising them isn’t doing anyone any good. 

Continue Reading: Chapter 3 – Rebuilding a Workable Relationship with Your Ex

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