My daughter is like a fragment of my soul come to life in a miniature version of myself. I breathe for her. I will willingly work and sacrifice to provide for her safety, security, and joy. She is my heart.
I know that, as a mother, I am not alone in being completely in love with the daughter I have been blessed with. It is an honor to be charged with raising and caring for her, and a duty that I take very seriously. It is on my shoulders to impart within her belief in her abilities, confidence, respect, love for herself and others, responsibility for her actions, and the ability to be an independent woman.
Therefore, I am not entirely surprised to learn that the fact that I am the mother of a daughter makes me part of a sisterhood of women who divorced, in part, for the sake of their daughters. I am also the mother of a son whom I love with all of my heart and would do anything for, including divorce. My exploration of the revelation that couples are more inclined to divorce when they have daughters, and not sons made me examine my own reasons for divorcing for my son and daughter.
Does it sound contrary to reason to divorce for a child? Divorce may put a child in the position to continually travel between homes, to endure emotional problems, and suffer from a lowered standard of living. How could divorce be a positive thing for a child?
Staying together “for the sake of the children” is a common reason why unhappy spouses may continue an unhappy marriage; however, many unhappy marriages are also dissolved for the very reason of sparing the children a lifetime of conflict and dysfunction. This was a primary motivation in my decision to divorce.
The reference I made earlier to the higher rate of divorce when a daughter is involved was from an ABC News report that revealed couples with daughters are 5-10% more likely to divorce than those with sons, and women are known to initiate divorce as much as 73% of the time! These numbers are not as a result of daughters causing the divorce so much as mothers making a conscious decision to leave a bad marriage because they want better for their little girls!
This is when I asked myself why did I leave my ex-husband for my daughter versus why I left for my son?
Like the women from the ABC News report, I wanted my daughter to grow up seeing a healthy and loving relationship between a man and a woman rather than the one I had that consisted of a husband who ignored his wife and treated her like a servant and sex object rather than a partner. I wanted her to see her mom as an example of strength and standing up for her rights, solving problems, and taking care of business instead of a depressed puddle of tears and defeat.
I wanted my daughter to grow up knowing that she deserves to be treated lovingly, with respect, and have a quality give-and-take relationship with the partner she chooses. I want her to know, because she’s seen it for herself, that a woman can stand strong on her own two feet, not needing anyone else; but, able to love and be loved if she so chooses. I wanted her to know that she should never accept being belittled, yelled at, or made to feel like nothing!
I had important reasons to divorce for my son, as well. The fact that he is a boy does not statistically contribute to the fact that his parents divorced; but, he too deserved to live out his childhood in a home free of conflict and not learning to mistreat women. He should also grow up seeing what love looks like between partners instead of following the example of a man incapable of showing appreciation, a romantic gesture, willingness to help out around the house, or respect for his mate.
I want my son to become a kind and loving husband who is involved, attentive, supportive of his wife’s dreams, able to address conflict in a positive manner, and able to succeed at marriage. He wasn’t going to learn any of that by taking notes from his parents’ marriage!
In many ways I know that I have made my children’s lives more difficult because of divorce. In other ways I know I have given them an opportunity that they wouldn’t’ have had before. I showed them that although they should fight for their marriage to last, that there are times when there’s nothing left to fight for, and it’s okay to let go.
My divorce gave my children the chance to see what their mom is made of and what she is willing to do for their safety and happiness. They know that their mom is one tough woman who can literally bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan! If nothing else is achieved as a result of my divorce, I hope that my daughter at least has confidence that she can get an education, have a career, and take care of herself and her family!
At last, my children are able to see what a healthy and loving marriage looks like. I am so pleased that my husband is able to demonstrate to my kids how a gentleman and a great husband treats his wife. They witness me being told that I’m loved every day, doors opened for me, and the tender friendship and affection I have with their stepdad.
Sometimes when we all sit down for a family dinner we go around the table to say something nice about the others at the table. It touched my heart when my daughter turned to my husband one evening and said “I appreciate you because you love my mom and make her very happy, and that makes me happy!” I literally had tears in my eyes that she knows and is able to say this!
So, the question I will continue to ask myself and pose to others troubled by their marriages is “what is your child learning from your marriage? Is the relationship you have what you would want for your child?”
I can say, without a doubt, that my previous marriage was not what I would want for either of my children, and it is not what I would want them to become. My hope is that in removing them from that situation I have given them a better quality of life and empowered them to know what a good partner is so that they can both be one and have one when they’re ready!