Divorce is, like, the worst thing that could possibly happen to kids, right? At least, that’s the general assumption. As a child of cooperatively divorced parents, I grew up in a very different reality. For me, divorce was a positive change for my family, and I believe there are certain aspects of divorce that can actually contribute to a child’s happiness. Here are eight of them…
- No more fighting at home. For me, this was the biggest benefit. When my parents stopped living together, they stopped quarreling within my earshot. As cooperative co-parenting colleagues, my mom and dad began behaving like teammates instead of enemies. As a result, my home was once again a peaceful place.
- Quality time with each parent. When parents live together, they tend to fall into certain roles. In the wake of a divorce, those roles change. The parent who was previously the primary disciplinarian is now also the parent who takes the kids to the movies. The parent who didn’t discipline now has to start doing so. Divorce provides an opportunity for children to see their parents in a more rounded way. From this perspective, relationships can often shift in a more positive direction, with each parent garnering more respect as well as “fun points.”
- Escape from the ordinary. The summer that I was 14, I went camping with my dad every other weekend. It was awesome to get away from the small town I lived in and spend some time with a different group of friends. Of course, Time With Dad doesn’t always mean taking a vacation, but when kids move between their parents’ houses, they still enjoy a change of scenery. The visitation schedule can allow for time and space when conflict arises and teenage friction is at an all-time high.
- More freedom. Less scrutiny. Divorced parents typically have a lot on their plates. As a result, you might not be able to volunteer in the classroom for all parties and field trips. This affords children more time to exercise their independence and develop themselves without feeling pressure to perform in a way that will make Mom or Dad happy. At least, that’s how I felt. My mom always wanted me to be active and popular. When she had to turn her attention to a job outside the home, I settled into my comfort zone as a bookworm/nerd.
- Double the vacations. I know this sounds like a poor consolation prize for children who’ve lost all the security in their lives. But seriously… I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit two different beaches each year.
- Opened minds and less shame. Divorce is tough. In the beginning, it’s a big and scary Unknown for kids who are going through it. However, as time passes, kids become accustomed to the new reality of their lives. They talk to other kids in similar circumstances, and they learn that families can look and function very differently. With a more opened mind and heart, they feel more compassion toward others and less shame about themselves.
- Life lessons about conflict. Children will learn a lot from the way their parents handle conflict. Through the process of Mom and Dad’s divorce, they’ll learn both effective an ineffective methods of communication. Hopefully, they’ll learn to seek a healthy and respectful approach to deal with those they disagree with. This outcome of divorce won’t necessarily make kids happier in life, but they’ll learn important lessons that will carry with them forever.
- Expanded families. As a result of my parents’ divorce, my family grew. As my parents found new partners, I experienced an increase of people who loved and supported me through the ordeals of my teenage years. I gained several pseudo step-siblings, one of which was my best friend for several years. My expanded family gave me many happy memories.
Divorce itself isn’t usually a happy event, but children can experience it much differently than parents. If the transition is handled respectfully, children may come to regard the change as a positive one in their lives. I did.