An open and honest conversation with two adult children of divorce – Elliott Meyer and Dylan Couvrette. Both of them share the experience of having their parents divorced when they were young, but their experiences were quite different. Dylan is the son of this podcast’s facilitator, Dan Couvrette. Today, father and son will be asking and answering some questions for the first time. Elliott and Dylan courageously share their experiences with their parents’ divorces: what it meant to them when it happened, their relationships with their parents through the years, how their parents’ divorces impacted their lives, and how they have been dealing with it.
Facilitator: Dan Couvrette, CEO and Publisher of Divorce Magazine and DivorcedMoms.com
Guest Speakers: Elliott Meyer and Dylan Couvrette, two adult children of divorce
Elliott Meyer is an Assessment Data Specialist who resides in Nashville, TN. He and his wife, Emily, enjoy traveling, concerts, family, and have just settled into their first new home. Elliott is 31 years old and his parents divorced when he was 14 years old. He was raised by his mother and has been estranged from his father for the past 12 years.
Dylan Couvrette is a property manager in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His parents separated when he was 4. Dylan is now 25. His parents have an amicable divorce and he has remained close to both his parents and his older brother whom he has recently purchased a home together. He enjoys outdoor activities and regularly goes on snowboarding trips with his brother and his father. He is the son of Dan Couvrette, this session’s Facilitator.
Divorce Magazine’s Podcasts are available on iTunes. Click here to subscribe to our podcasts.
Read the Transcript of this Podcast Below.
A Conversation with Two Adult Children of Divorce
Intro: My name is Dan Couvrette. I’m the publisher of Divorce Magazine and I want to welcome our listeners to this Divorce School podcast. I’m talking today to Dylan Couvrette and Elliottt Meyer. For full disclosure, Dylan is my son, Elliottt is not my son, but his mother is the editor of our website Divorce Moms. So we’ve got a lot of divorce experience here on the phone!
Just to give you a bit of my background, I started Divorce Magazine 20 years ago, and we’ve been providing information and resources for divorcing people since then. I’m an expert in divorce only, through my work that I’ve done in building and developing Divorce Magazine and divorcemagazine.com. I’m not a therapist by trade, I’m not a lawyer by trade, and neither are Dylan or Elliottt.
Elliottt is an Assessment Data Specialist who resides in Nashville, Tennessee. He and his wife Emily enjoy traveling concerts, family and just got settled into their first new home. Elliottt is 31 years old and his parents divorced when he was 14 years old. He was raised from that point on pretty much by his mom, and he’s had his ups and downs with his dad since their divorce. We’re going to talk a little bit about that and he’ll share information about that.
Dylan is 25 years old. As I mentioned, he’s my son. He’s a property manager in Toronto. My former wife (his mom) and I divorced when Dylan was four years old. We’re going to talk about what they can remember about their parents’ divorce and how it may have affected their lives. They may even share a bit about divorce and how it affected their friends around them and their relationships, but we’ll keep in mind that Dylan, his mom and dad, they divorced 21 years ago, so he may not remember every detail. That may also be important to you, as well as Elliottt (his parents divorced 17 years ago).
If you’re listening in on this seminar because if you’re a child of divorce, you may get some insight into what could possibly affect you as your parents are going through divorce or if they’ve been divorced. It may also be important to you if you’re a divorcing person and you’re wondering “What are the effects going to be on my children?” It’s not like we’re covering every possible example of how divorce affects children – but you might get a sense from listening to Dylan or listening to Elliottt as to what effects they’ve felt back then, and what effects they may have felt or don’t feel as adults of divorce.
So I want to welcome both of you to this seminar and I appreciate that you’re both taking the time for this. I know the people calling in or listening in to this are probably thinking “Gee, three guys talking about feelings, emotions and divorce, that’s something new. They’d likely be talking about a football game or a hockey game or something.” So thank you guys for taking the time to be part of this conversation.
Elliott Meyer: Sure, no problem, no problem.
Dan Couvrette: I’m going to throw out a few questions and see if any of them resonate. Just jump in if you have something something that you want to comment on. Elliott, you were a little bit older when your parents divorced. How old were you when they separated?
And Dylan, you can jump in as well if you have something to add as well, but you were only four at the time. Do you have any recollection of what that time was like for you? And what your experience was with your feelings toward it? Do you have any recollection of it?
Elliott: Yeah, to certain extent. I mean, a lot of it is more vague impressions than actual details, but it was obviously to be expected. It’s very tumultuous. And there was a lot of anger and confusion and mistrust, to a certain extent. It was kind of chaotic, especially with my parents, who had kind of an acrimonious custody battle. So that just kind of complicated things, obviously.
Right. So you do remember the feelings of tension and a bit of anxiety for yourself, or a lot of anxiety for yourself, as they were going through divorce?
Elliott: Yes, absolutely.
So it wasn’t something that you could get away from? Did you feel that your parents tried to shelter you in any way while they were going through that process?
Elliott: Yeah, I think they did as well as they could. This is something I guess I’ve realized more in retrospect than I understood at the time, but yeah, they’re just people going through stuff too. They were doing the best they could, but however much you might try to shield somebody or protect somebody you care about, there’s really only a certain extent to which you can do that, especially in a situation like that. That’s so chaotic.
Right, right. And Dylan, we spoke earlier about this. And you said that you didn’t really have any recollection of your mom and I divorcing – you were four years old. Do you know when you have the first sense that “Hey, my parents don’t live together?” Or did that never kind of come up for you in your experience?
Dylan Couvrette: Well, obviously, when I was four years old, it didn’t really dawn on me that’s what was happening. I think later in life it kind of all just seemed to be the norm going to your house for three or four days and then traveling over to my mom’s for the weekend (or however we worked it out). Really, in my mind, that never really seemed to be a whole lot of negativity between the two of you. I’m sure there was, because you were divorced. Whenever people get divorced, normally there’s going to be a negative experience. But in terms of mine, I don’t remember it being negative. I definitely had some questions when I became more of an adult, I suppose when I was 10, 11, or 12. But that’s about all I can remember really. It was just kind of the norm growing up. Four years old, you grow up in that, and that’s just normal for you. So that’s where I was at.
Did either of you guys ever wonder “Why did my parents get a divorce? Why are they divorcing?” Or did you not have to wonder that, Elliott, because you could see what was going on, since you were older?
Elliott: Yeah, I think that was part of it – being old enough allowed me to be aware of what was happening to an extent ¬– but I think there was also a good measure of self-indulgent adolescent “Why is this happening to me?” attitude. I might have been a little too caught up in my own trivialization to really be that empathetic at the time.
Right. Yeah, that’s understandable. You were 14 years old, right? You’re trying to figure out your own life and plus your parents threw this at you as well, so it makes it extra challenging. You’re already potentially being rebellious at the time too. Did this set you more off in that direction? Do you think you were rebellious? I don’t know.
Elliott: I was never really rebellious in that kind of sense. I think, especially at that time, I was more toward the depressive and anxious ends of the spectrum than rebelliousness. I was never one to act out, I don’t think.
Do either of you guys talk to anybody about your parents’ divorce? When you were young, when you were teenagers, or when you were adults, did you ever have a conversation and say “Gee, I noticed this about their divorce. I wonder why they didn’t do this?” Or think, “That’s different than your parents’ divorce” (if you compare it to other friends whose parents have divorced). Did you ever have those conversations?
Elliott: I think ever since the divorce my family has always been very open about it. And not to mention, at the time, in the middle of the custody battle, there were some court ordered therapy for myself and my little brother (my little brother was seven when my parents split). So there was some of that, but it had become a standard of topic of discussion with my family. For my little brother and myself, we spent more of our lives as children of divorce than we did before, because it was more of the norm I guess.
Did you feel you had to protect your brother in any way, given that he was younger than you were? Or were you too caught up in your side?
Elliott: I don’t really know. I remember being angry on his behalf. But I guess I don’t really remember knowing how I might go about protecting him. He was closer to my father than I was. They had a stronger relationship, especially him being so young. He was young enough to not really understand what was going on, but old enough to be more aware than you would have been, Dylan, at four – before this age of reason, right?
But at seven, I feel like was kind of that that perfect storm of perception and awareness, but with a lack of understanding. I think it was a lot harder on him than it was for me. So I remember having a lot of anger on his behalf, but not really understanding how or what I could do for him.
Dylan, when we divorced you were four and your older brother Misha was nine. Do you have any sense of the relationship changing or did you ever think of him as being your protector, or did you have any of that feeling?
Dylan: Trying to remember back to that time it’s difficult. I remember him struggling with maybe the dynamic between having to go from one place to the other and living in two places. I do remember him having issues, but that could have just been him coming into his own self as a teenager. I think like you said, that’s a difficult time as is, without having to be thrown into the mix of a divorce.
In terms of talking to someone, I remember both you and mom being very good at explaining to me what was going on and explaining that “Two people who love each other aren’t necessarily going to be together forever and that it’s something that happens.” And I think from that experience, I just kind of took that with me and was forced to understand, because I was so young and I just kind of grew up with that.
I don’t really remember talking to anybody other than you guys about the experience. Any kids who were going through divorce themselves, I don’t really remember talking to them as a child. You guys were good at explaining what the situation was, and I think I just kind of trusted you guys and that was it.
Well, I do remember your older brother (during the very early stages of your mother and I separating) that he, even at nine years old, did kind of take on an older “Look to me like I’m an older brother, I’m gonna take care of you” role. That may or may not be something that you remember – it’s not like you guys stopped fighting. Heaven forbid, that never happened.
Dylan: I think I think that’s the reason that I don’t remember that older brother protector role, you know? It was always a “He was at my throat and I was always trying to defend myself” type of thing.
Dylan: Maybe that’s what’s clouding my mind.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, as you said, you were young and when somebody’s beating on you in the kitchen or in the living room, or any room for that matter, it’s kind of hard to think of that as being somebody who’s protecting you. And just so people listening know, Dylan only has one sibling. Do you only have one sibling, Elliott, or are there others?
Elliott: Yes, it’s just the two of us.
Right. Was there anything, Elliott, that you can think of that your parents did that helped in any way as they were going through their divorce?
Elliott: I mean, like I said, the whole situation is kind of a jumble of impressions. It’s difficult to recall specific details. Yeah. Sorry.
No, it’s not a problem. It just may be useful for people who are listening because not everything is significant in their parents’ divorce. I guess if I were a therapist, I might say, “Well, some of these things you may have suppressed and they’ll come out later in your life.”
But I know Dylan’s life pretty well, and he’s got a pretty good life. He’s got a great girlfriend. He’s got great relationships with friends, he’s happy in his job – so his life has turned out, and Elliottt, it sounds like you’re doing okay as well. You’ve married, got a new home, and you don’t sound depressed to me, thinking: “I’ll never get married.” Obviously not, you’ve gone ahead and gotten married yourself.
Elliott: Yeah, I’m doing quite well.
Did you have any reservations about getting married? Did you think “Gee, my parents did such a bad job. Do I really want to get into this?” Did that conversation come up a little, a lot, or not at all?
Elliott: No, I had decided “You can’t let something make you afraid if it’s something you want to do.” You know, you can’t wake up in the morning and say “I’m afraid to drive down the street because I might get in a car wreck. I’ll let that keep me from where I’m going.”
Especially with Emily (a couple of weeks from now will be our first anniversary) it was such a natural feeling like we both kind of knew, several months into dating. We started talking about it. It was just kind of a foregone conclusion. So I think the idea of fear, like “My parents divorced in a hugely disruptive and destructive way” is irrelevant. I’m not gonna let that keep me from doing something that feels like it’s what I should do, you know?
Right. Dylan, do you think you will ever get married? I’ve never asked you this question before. So great time to do it on a seminar, right?
Dylan: Hard question to ask, or rather answer.
The question is easy to ask. It may be a hard question to answer for you. You can say “Next question” if you want. We can move on, or you can give me an answer.
Dylan: No, that’s fine. I’m good to answer the question. I guess the answer is: “I don’t know.” It hasn’t crossed my mind at this point and I don’t think that I would be stopped by the fact that I’m a product of divorced parents. I think that’s pretty common these days. I don’t think that it would take having parents who have been divorced to stop you from marriage, because a lot of people get divorced these days. So, I don’t know the answer to that question, really. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m not scared of getting married because I’m married. I’ll get divorced. I think it’s the matter of the right person the right time. And that’s it.
Right. Okay. Well, that’s a good answer. So, there’s still possibilities for you?
All right. Well, fellas, I want to thank you for your time. Is there anything you want to share that we didn’t talk about, that you think would be helpful to either children whose parents are going through divorce, or for parents who are going through divorce and are wondering what the effects might be on their children? …Dead silence.
Elliott: Yeah, nothing that I can think of
Dylan: Well, I actually have something to add that I think is important for the children who are going through it – is to not make it about themselves. I think that’s important to remember that the people who are getting divorced are getting divorced because they have an issue with that other person. When you take it personal, that’s when it starts to be become more difficult to go forward.
Right, so it’s not the kids’ fault. You know, every parent normally says that to the children anyways, but what you’re saying, as a child of divorce, is it’s really not their fault – it’s their parents to figure stuff out.
Yeah, because it’s a tremendous burden that a lot of children carry – because they think that somehow, they’re the reason for their parents divorcing. I’ve never met a case of divorce where the children were at fault, so that’s a great point to make.
For the people who are listening to this seminar, I recommend that you check out some of the other Divorce School podcasts and there’s also videos that you can watch. I also recommend that you visit divorcemag.com and divorcemoms.com – two great websites with just tons and tons of information and resources. I hope that this seminar has been of value to you. And I want to thank Elliott and Dylan again for sharing their insights and spending this time with me. Thanks so much, fellas.
Dylan: Thank you.
Elliott: Sure. Thanks for having us.