I’m a child of divorce. Have you read the studies about me? Did you hear somewhere that I had difficulties in math class and/or severe emotional problems? Do you assume my teenage self ran away from home, used drugs and got pregnant?
You’d be wrong on all accounts. Except, of course, for the stat I didn’t mention above… the one about my higher risk of divorce. I am a child of divorce who has been divorced. But I don’t blame my divorced parents for that one. In fact, I’m rather grateful.
I was thirteen when my parents separated. At that point in my life, I was just becoming aware of love and romance, and for a time I was a little angry at my mom and dad for giving up on something so wonderful.
I’ll never give up like they did, I thought to myself. I’ll never get divorced.
Funny thing, my parents’ divorce wasn’t so terrible. Overall, it was a rather good thing for my family. I gained some pseudo-stepsiblings in the process, and I learned about the ways relationships can change. I saw my parents become better parents, and even friends, because they didn’t have to be domestic partners.
I began to see divorce not as a problem itself, but as a much-needed solution to a problem. As time passed, I was able to appreciate the ways in which my life had improved because of the divorce. I also saw my mom and dad grow as individuals, and I developed closer relationships with each of them as a result of our family structure.
So, what impact has all of this had on my adult relationships?
I’m OK with divorce. We’re all human beings, learning and growing as we walk along the path of life. Sometimes part of our personal growth involves ending relationships that no longer serve us, and that’s OK. Like I said, I’m now divorced myself. My ex and I were able to be honest about the state of our relationship, and we made the difficult choice to do what was best for both of us.
I think of divorce as a shared goal. So many people think of divorce in terms of war: where two sides face off and fight. That wasn’t the model I grew up with, thus I don’t know how to play that game. I believe the process of ending a relationship (like the process of building one) takes cooperation, communication and compromise.
I believe that families should evolve, not dissolve, through the process. As a child of divorce, I experienced far more gains than losses. I gained a second home and an extended family. I gained new friends in new places, new adventures and new relationships. These days I firmly believe that divorce should be viewed as an evolutionary process for families. Seeing dissolution sets everyone up for disappointment.
I’m acutely aware of my personal health in relationships. I know my needs, and I know my boundaries. I believe that compromises are necessary, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my physical or mental health in order to save a relationship.
When I consider new partners, I think about how what it would be like to separate from them. As I mentioned before, I think the end of a relationship is an act of teamwork. Therefore, I don’t want to get involved with anyone who wouldn’t work with me through that process if necessary. I’ve no interest in men who’ve indulged in dirty divorce tricks, nor those who are adamantly against divorce.
I am a child of divorce. But I don’t think of myself as broken. I don’t believe my childhood was lacking. I think my parents made a difficult choice which turned out to be the best decision for our family, and I benefitted from that. Nowadays, I see myself as stronger, more open-minded and with greater self-awareness as a result.