My parents' divorce helped to shape me into who I am, and I'm quite happy with the result. I'm always disappointed to hear parents confess their guilt over a divorce.
Because my parents had a cooperative divorce, the evolution of our family was a relatively easy process for me. There were a rough few months during the initial adjustment period, but then I settled in and truly began to enjoy my two-home lifestyle.
At the time, I was simply having fun and going with the flow. I was ignorant to the gravity of the situation and oblivious to the life lessons I was absorbing. Years of adult-style research and reflection have helped me realize the gifts that came from my parents’ separation.
When I think about the divorce, I'm grateful because of these 6 gifts.
1. My family grew.
As my parents recoupled, I gained a handful of pseudo-step-relatives, one of which became my best friend. I wasn’t particularly close with all the members of my new family, yet I continued to benefit from a larger circle of people who cared and supported my academic and extra-curricular pursuits.
2. I came to know my parents as people.
Throughout the divorce process, I saw my mom and dad struggle with their emotions as well as their ever-increasing responsibilities. The changes in our family unmasked a host of vulnerabilities that forced us to meet on common ground instead of maintaining the superiority model of a traditional parent/child relationship. The breakdown of those walls made it easier to confide in my mom and dad about tough issues, and to this day I believe that I'm closer with each of them as a result of the divorce.
3. I learned not to sweat the small stuff.
My primary childhood home lacked a male presence and excessive funding. As a result, we adapted to live with a messy house, mismatched curtains, dog-eaten linoleum and a faucet that operated only with the aid of pliers. It wasn’t a big deal. We still had clothes, shoes, food and heat, as well as plenty of laughter. I never did learn the value of a tidy bedroom, however, I don't feel that's a great loss.
4. I gained a new level of human understanding.
It was obvious to me that no matter how rich their history and how deeply my parents cared about each other, they couldn't maintain their life together. They were different people. People who needed to fulfill separate destinies. As a result, I learned to stand up for myself and my goals while realizing that others must do the same. In my own marriage, I refused to sacrifice to the point of suicide, and I wished my husband well as we shook hands and parted ways. It's OK to want different things.
5. The fighting stopped.
I’m sure my mom and dad disagreed from time to time, but they kept it out of my earshot. For the most part, the strongly-worded arguments halted when my parents stopped living together. Because of the divorce, my home was peaceful once again and my stress levels returned to that of a normal adolescent.
6. I'm self-sufficient.
To be completely honest, the reality of divorce shattered my fantasies of becoming a housewife. This might sound a little sad, but I know it was for the best since I'm a terrible cook and I hate to clean. On the other hand, I'm pretty darn proud of my education, career(s) and ability to support myself regardless of my relationship status.
My parents' divorce helped to shape me into who I am, and I'm quite happy with the result. I'm always disappointed to hear parents confess their guilt over a divorce. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but personally, I carry a lot of gratitude and wouldn't change a thing about the way I grew up.