Interview: A Kid With Two Homes – A Child’s Perspective on Divorce
In the sea of websites, books, and other adult-centered information about divorce, it can be difficult to find helpful information for children or resources from a child's perspective. Enter A Kid With Two Homes, a blog by Bella Duncan, whose parents divorced when she was a young child. A Kid with Two Homes explores topics such as dealing with difficult emotions, dealing with the holidays, packing things to move from one home to the next, and communicating with parents and siblings.
We first "met" Bella via Instagram, where she posts lots of helpful content. Here, we get to know Bella better, and she shares advice for parents and children of divorce.
What do you hope to achieve with your blog?
Bella: My ultimate goal is to provide an accessible and beneficial platform for kids of divorce. In this, I hope to offer positive coping mechanisms and remind kids experiencing divorce, separation, or family conflict that they are seen, heard, and not alone.
Tell us about when your parents told you they were getting divorced.
Bella: Being three years old at the time, I have only vague memories [of the news itself]. I have vivid memories of moments like my dad leaving the house to "go to the petrol station" and explaining to me that it was better that he left now than when I was older.
Experiencing divorce at such a young age was confusing. However, my parents did explain our situation over time. I remember asking a heap of questions and my parents answering these questions as truthfully as possible. One thing I have learned is that divorce is not a singular event; it is an ongoing process. As such, it is more the aftermath of my parents' divorce that I recall vividly. For example the first pick up/drop-off, the feeling of missing your other parent, the first time I packed my bag to travel to my other home. Helping your child understand your divorce is not just a matter of sitting them down and telling them. It is an ongoing process where you must show your support, love, and care again and again.
What are some things that helped you during your parent's divorce?
Bella: I asked plenty of questions – questions that would probably be deemed "awkward" to an adult. For example, if mum would be dropping us off at dad's, I would ask him, "Why can't mummy come with us?" One thing that helped me understand my situation was my parent's honesty. It was vital for me to truly understand the circumstances that I found myself in to be able to accept my situation. Other things that helped me immediately after my parents' divorce were: having a designated room at both homes, having my questions answered truthfully and respectfully, and maintaining a strong relationship with both parents.
What is the most important thing divorced parents can do for their children as they co-parent?
Bella: Have respect. Showing respect for your co-parent is showing respect for your child. No circumstances of divorce are ideal. However, with respect, your child can better accept, understand, and move forward with their life following your divorce. Maintaining the most effective, amicable, and low-conflict relationship with your co-parent can massively impact your child. Put it this way: If your child is concerned, focused, or worried about your co-parent relationship, they are not focusing on their own goals.
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What have you struggled with most, and what has helped?
Bella: Feeling responsible for my parents' happiness and loneliness. As a kid with two homes, I have always worried about the parent that I am not with at the time. I have always felt responsible for making them happy, as I know my brother and I are such a significant light in their lives. Over the years, I have learned to really focus on what I can and can't control. I have now accepted that I cannot control the happiness of my parents. I have also come to learn that I am not responsible for my parent's divorce. My parents verbally reminding me of this fact helped a lot. Your child should never be made to feel responsible for your divorce; reminding them of this fact can be really important.
What positives resulted from your parent's divorce?
Bella: Maintaining a strong relationship was a non-negotiable for both of my parents. This is likely the most positive thing to have eventuated from my parent's divorce. Due to my parent's divorce, I spent a significant amount of time with my grandparents. This allowed me to form very special bonds with my grandparents. The organizational skills I have learned as a result of my parents' divorce have filtered into many aspects of my life. I truly don't believe that my communication skills would be as effective as they are if it were not for my parent's divorce.
I have also learned to deal with conflict, guilt, worry, and fear more effectively. Their divorce was something that was out of my control. However, how I dealt with it was in my control, and for that, I am proud.
Bella is an empowered kid of divorce who is determined to make change for the better. Currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Psychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, Bella has gone between two homes since her parents divorced when she was three. Growing up in two homes, she experienced firsthand many of the issues children of divorce face. As a young adult, she was inspired to create a helpful resource to help kids of divorce feel seen, heard, and less alone. Her blog, A Kid With Two Homes, shines a light on what divorce, separation, or family conflict can look like from the kid's perspective. Follow Bella on Instagram.