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How will my son react to a divorce?


Dear health-root,

I'm a 45 year old who has known my wife for 23 years, of which we have been married for the 15 years. We have a 9-year-old son who we struggled for 8 years to get.

I do not enjoy my marriage and have not done it for a long time and therefore consider divorcing. I am a nuisance both for my wife and for myself.

There is a very long history, but it is my son who raises my concerns about divorce.

He is my everything. I'm only happy when I'm alone with him. He is incredibly good to talk to. We understand each other and have the same kind of humor even though he is only 9. He is a single child and we have therefore been able to give him a lot of input and it has also resulted in him being a very clever boy without being a loneliness.

My problem is how he will react if my wife and I divorce. How will he take it? How does he want to react? How will he look at me?

My son and I are very closely linked. He misses me when I'm not home. Gets sleepy often (says my wife at least). It's really nice to know, but in this situation it's a pain for me.

I have always told him where I was and when I returned home so he had to deal with it.

I have traveled a lot and have used to not always being with him. I could do that when I only knew he was well.

Therefore, I think I can not see him every day if we get divorced, even if it becomes difficult.

My big question is: Can you assess in advance how a child will react in the event of a divorce? It's also important for me not to live too far away from him so we have the opportunity to be seen outside the established meeting whenever he or she wishes.

Thanks in advance for the answer.

Greetings a father.


Dear "a father".

I can understand that the only reason you have not yet been divorced from your wife is the consideration of your 9-year-old son. You are worried how he will take it if he is told that his parents must be divorced. It's great to hear that you have as close and good relationship with your boy as you love all over the world.

You also write that you are a nuisance both for yourself and for your wife and that it has been such a space time. I can therefore imagine that the atmosphere in the home is not too loving and I would therefore think your son is feeling this. He must be influenced by the excited relationship between his parents, for although you may not be scared while he hears it, he will feel how you have it together. Children have many antennas when it comes to weathering a mood in the home.

My guess is, therefore, that it will be a relief for your boy that you directly tell him how it is between you and your wife. I therefore suggest that you first talk to your wife about your desire to divorce - and to find out what consequences this will have for your son. You have to consider the following questions: Where should he live, can you have common custody, how do you stay in the vicinity for holidays so that your child is free to move freely between you.

When you have two things in place, you'll find a fun moment in which you tell him about your decision. This is clearly an adult decision, where he can not be asked - BUT it is very important that he can ask all the questions he wants about what consequences your decision gets for him. You must respond as directly and honestly as possible. It can mean a lot for him to know that you both love him the same way as always, after a divorce, and that your decision is only about your mutual relationship. I know many children who have gotten better after a divorce because the parents can each give the best of themselves to their children when they are not bothered by the excited relationship with the spouse. But you must work together on the common goal: that your son may thrive and develop - and that is best done by openness and mutual respect for the other's right of access to the son - clear agreements being observed and no negative mention of the spouse in the son's inquiry.

I wish you good luck with these conversations you are going to do.

Yours sincerely

Birgitte Winkel,

doctor and cohabiting therapist

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