Tiger & Elin Divorce at Popular Time: When First Child Is 3 Years Old

Andrew Dalton

Elin Nordegren Woods recently spoke to People magazine, but her interview didn't get into the money -- rumors have the divorce settlement at $100 million -- which I'm guessing should be sufficient to allow for plenty of mommy and nanny time for the kids, 3-year-old Sam and 1-year-old Charlie.

Tiger and Elin's circumstances are unique. Most divorces aren't based on porn star-loving golf superstars and media firestorms. (Okay, maybe golf and porn do play into a lot of splits, but in very different ways.) But most have this in common: Divorces often go down when the first child reaches about 3.

There are a lot of reasons cited, but this is the most likely: The first few years of having a new child feels like such a trial for the bewildered couple that the idea of leaving seems like desertion at a time of war. Strangely, when it gets easier -- when the kid goes to preschool, gets potty-trained, and more independent -- people get their head above water, take a look at their situation, and feel like they can split without the world ending. 

Tiger and Elin have already shown that they know how to do some things right. Yes, he missed Sam's birthday for the U.S. Open, but made sure Elin was invited to the belated party he threw. That's a crucial example of decency to the kids, though too much parental togetherness can create too many expectations.

Splitting with toddlers in the house feels like the best, then the worst, then the best time to do it. At first it's easy to bullshit and just say mama or daddy is getting a new house. Then the absence of one parent can seem wrong to the kid, and they can freak out about it. Here an always-traveling dad like Tiger can for once prove to be a benefit. It probably didn't seem that different to his kids at first.

For the parent, it can all feel hypocritical. If there's one thing you pound into a toddler, it's that you have to learn to share and get along -- no exceptions and no arguments -- especially with the people in your own house. But suddenly you're saying, like so many other rules, that doesn't apply to parents. I'm quitting and taking my toys somewhere else.

It can be a real time of bonding for a parent and child, though, where they get to relate to each other purely one-on-one instead of in the shadow of a difficult relationship. 

And the biggest perk of splitting at that age? They're just not going to remember any of it. Before long the child will have no lasting image of their parents together. It's sad, of course, but for the best in the end. 

If there was a best time to get a divorce, do you think your child's toddlerhood is it?


Image via People.com

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