Divorce and separation affect many of us. Some people experience it in different ways.
SpunOut.ie volunteer Claire interviews two children of divorce, Samantha and Kelly to get their perspective.
Interview one – Samantha
Tell me a little about your parent’s relationship?
There was a big age gap between my parents but they were on the same wavelength. They were together for five years. They separated after I was born. I’m the youngest.
So, you were too young to have realised what was going on. But did the divorce affect you later on?
At times like Christmas I felt bad because my dad was on his own. When we went to visit dad, I always felt like I was betraying my mum. Even after they split, they didn’t get on. I kinda gave my mum a hard time when she’d be giving out about dad because I was a daddy’s girl, I was just biased. It didn’t affect me in school or in my relationships with other people. When I went to see my dad it was like going on a holiday because we were going somewhere new and he spoiled my sister and me and let us run riot. I was lucky because I had a sister, so if it ever got too much then I could talk to her.
What’s your relationship like now with you and your parents?
I live with my mam and my sister, but I still talk to my dad a lot. My parents never communicate but I get on well with them both now. I’m glad my parents broke up because they didn’t make each other happy and we would all be living in that atmosphere. Now they can go and find their own happiness.
How would you advise anyone who’s parents are separating?
It’s a tough time, but hopefully you’ll be happy in the long run once you have adjusted. You don’t feel like this overnight, you need time to adjust. Sometimes divorces are bitter and full of anger, but that doesn’t reflect how the whole situation will be in the future. Your parents will move on and hopefully find someone who really makes them happy. If you need to talk to somebody you should. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
Interview two – Kelly
How long were your parents together before they split up?
My parents got together quite young. My ma was nineteen and my da was eighteen. In 1996 my parents moved in together. I was five at the time. Before that, my ma and me had stayed with my dad some nights and in my grandparents others. They split up in January that year but tried again later on. The last straw happened when my ma wanted the car to visit my gran in hospital but my dad wouldn’t give it to her, so we left in a taxi and never came back.
How did you feel when they separated? Did it affect your behaviour in school/or with your parents?
I was just turning seven when they split. I did not know what was going on and it wasn’t until a few years later that it was explained to me. Because no one explained it to me, I had no feelings really. All that was bugging me was that I had to move and I’d never see my mates again.
How did you feel when your parents moved on and entered new relationships?
My dad met his new girlfriend previously on the internet. The site had a controlled party where everyone meets each other. It was love at first sight apparently. Dad moved abroad a few weeks after they split. He was there for good, but he came back because of me but I’m not sure I believe that. Da picked me up one weekend and I met his new girlfriend. I was only seven and I didn’t know what was going on. Next thing, I’m meeting her parents and travelling to Cork every time I was with him.
What is your relationship like now with your parents and your stepparents?
Me and ma are as close as ever though we don’t talk about boys etc., we still get along like a house on fire. My stepdad is the best stepdad in the world. He treats me like a daughter and is so kind to me. He is more of a father to me than my own father is. Dad and me only had a close bond when we talked about computers, games and technology. His girlfriend changed me as a person. I was never into makeup, shoes and clothes. I was a very nervous shy child, but hey, I’m not like that anymore! Dad’s girlfriend isn’t very family-orientated. Most of my dad’s family think she tried to push me away from my dad, which she has done. She only wants my da and nothing else. They have pushed themselves away from the rest of the family. I never noticed the way they treated me until recently.
Looking back at the situation, how do you feel?
I think it was harder for me because it’s only me. I’ve no brothers or sisters who would be there to help me and see what was really going on. Although, as I got older, I saw the situation from different views. I wish I was close to my dad but I’m happy to have my stepdad in my life too. I just got on with it. I just saw it as a ‘what happens’ sort of thing. It doesn’t really bother me anymore. I was so young when it happened.
*Names of interviewees changed to protect identities.