Till divorce do us part
Recognising the unseen victims of divorce: the children.
Divorce is still a taboo topic in Singapore. Yet however much we try not to think about it, it is still a reality for 7,500 couples (and their children) who face the realities of divorce in Singapore every year.
So what is it like for children to accept and deal with the fallout from their parents’ divorce? How big a ripple effect does it have on their lives?
Youth.SG spoke to three youths whose parents have undergone a divorce to find out their stories.
“My mother committed infidelity and left the family when I was three. After the divorce, I spent a lot of time comparing my family to other families, questioning why mine was different. I really hated my mom during a rebellious phase of my life for breaking the family apart,” said Shannon*, 20, Singapore Polytechnic graduate.
One of the biggest struggles that all three youths highlighted was dealing with their parent’s breach of trust. Once trust is broken by such a close relative, family life is never the same.
“There was a lot of tension in the family, and when things did not go smoothly, there were a lot of blaming and pointing of fingers,” said Blair*, a 19-year-old junior college student. Her father moved out of the house after finding out his wife had been unfaithful, leaving Blair with her mother and sister.
The effects of divorce on children come in different forms. Blair began developing bad allergies, and the stress from the divorce resulted in her not being able to concentrate in school and constantly feeling afraid of being alone.
For others like Delilah*, 19, Singapore Polytechnic student, the events leading up to the divorce left much more permanent psychological scars. She said: “My father was abusive. Even till now, I am still very untrusting on people, especially father figures.
“I can’t listen to shouting or fighting without having anxiety attacks, and have had to see psychiatrists.”
Not only has the taken-for-granted notion that home is a safe haven changed in the eyes of these children, divorce has also affected what they expect in a relationship in the future.
“I am more wary and careful when considering getting into a relationship with someone, in hopes that I will not give the same stress to my children that my parents had given me,” said Blair.
However, not all of the effects of divorce are negative. In fact, some really do believe that divorce has since then changed things for the better.
“I wouldn’t change where I am for anything in the world. If I had changed the fact that my parents divorced, I wouldn’t have met my stepmom, and I really do love her,” said Shannon.
*Names changed to protect privacy