1. How did you make the decision to divorce?
2. How did you broach the subject of divorce with your children?
3. How did they take the news?
4. How did you make decisions about custody of the children?
5. Were there any problems with this?
6. How did you introduce your children to your new partner?
7. How did your children adjust to having a step family?
8. How did the relationship between the step siblings develop?
9. How has the custodial arrangement worked out so far?
10. How have you managed the issue of child support?
Summary of the Interview
I interviewed a twenty-nine year old woman who has one daughter, aged five. The interview process went well with the woman being relaxed and seemingly open throughout.
She separated from her daughter’s father a year ago and is now living in a relationship with another woman who has an eleven year old son. She told me how it was difficult explaining the concept of separation with her daughter at such a young age and that the little girl was very upset that they wouldn’t be living with her father anymore. However, the woman stuck by her decision and explained to her daughter that she would still see her father at weekends and that she could speak to him on the phone whenever she wanted.
The woman and her husband decided very early on that the daughter would live with her mother from Monday to Friday and then spend Friday and Saturday nights with her father, returning to her mother on Sunday afternoons. In school holidays the time spent with her father could be increased. There were no problems with making this arrangement as the relationship between the woman and her husband was, and still is, very amicable.
The woman was careful about introducing her daughter to her new partner. As she was only four, it was unnecessary to have a large discussion about it. Her daughter already knew her new partner, Laura, as a friend, and her son, Sam. They spent time together as a foursome for six months before Laura and Sam moved into their house with them. There is a large age gap between the two children and the woman feels that this has eradicated the possibility of sibling rivalry. So far, both children have got on well but still lead their separate lives.
The custodial arrangement is still working well and there are no arguments over it. The father always pays child support every month without fail and always provides a healthy and pleasant environment for his daughter at weekends.
Overall, I think that this family have handled the divorce, and circumstances that have arisen since, very well. The woman has been honest but sensitive with her daughter from the start and has made changes as slowly and gently as possible. Perhaps an important factor in the success of these family changes is the good relationship between the woman and her ex-husband. Despite the situation being difficult and painful for all concerned, they have remained on good terms throughout the whole process and this has inevitably helped the child in her adjustment.
It may have indeed helped that the children are not of the same age and therefore are not competing in any way. However, it must be testament to all the parents, and to the way in which they have handled the situation, that the children seem to be happy and settled with their lives.