Why I kept keepsakes after divorce

Nov 7, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Image: Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

While my son was lucky enough to have been an infant when my ex-husband and I divorced and doesn't know the difference, I still kept photos and marriage mementos for him from the family he'll never remember. But, before you call me crazy and undedicated to my husband, whom of which I love with all my heart, find out why I kept keepsakes after divorce.

Divorce is complicated enough for adults to deal with, so I can imagine how confusing it can be for kids. Luckily, my ex-husband and I filed for divorce while we were pregnant and he completely disappeared out of our lives long before my son could miss that man. And while my son and I have since been blessed with a wonderful husband and father who makes our family whole, I still have photos and marriage keepsakes from our former life.

I'm not trying to dwell in the past or weep over memories of love lost. I'm way past that. I am completely in love with my husband, who has adopted my son and given me a beautiful daughter. And I don't really worry that my son feels there is anything missing from his life, but I still fear that in the future he may wonder about the biological father who left him behind.

So, in a box are keepsakes from my first marriage including wedding trinkets, my engagement ring and many photos that tell the story of the relationship that brought him into the world. I keep this box of memories for him so he never has to question whether he was made from love. But, I also secretly hope that he never asks.

Many people may say to toss all the marriage mementos after divorce and not to focus on the past. But I assure you, I never take a trip down memory lane or swoon over photos of the life that once was. I kept keepsakes after divorce strictly for my son. And I have the full support of my husband to do so.

But, regardless of what you think about my decision, it's something only you can decide for you and your children, advises Judith Orloff, M.D., psychiatrist and author of The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life. Dr. Orloff suggests keeping the treasure box private until the conversation with your child leads to an appropriate opening to mention the mementos, but cautions not to push it on your son or daughter.

Just go with your heart and let your child's needs guide you in the future. You can always toss those marriage keepsakes after divorce down the road when your kids are old enough to make decisions about whether they want to keep them. Until then the keepsakes will sit in a box and I'm confident about my decision.

Read more about divorce

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Divorced and co-parenting: Your child's Bill of Rights
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