After being the bystander of two failed marriages and several, serious, break ups, I know divorce is not easy, and I know it’s never what anyone envisions while they’re promising their life and love at the altar. I recognize the obstacles adults face when children are involved in a divorce, and I am proof of the consequences a difficult family annulment has on those children. For the sake of avoiding oversimplification, I will stress that, even as a child of two divorces, this blog series isn’t to shame people for getting divorced or to try to convince readers to stay in an unhappy marriage. I will stress that, as a young adult who was raised to think with complexity and purpose, this perspective is to challenge adults to plan for making a lifelong promise, for the right (and sometimes hard) reasons, which will ultimately minimize your children’s confusion, anger, and distress, should divorce become the final option.
All this being said, it’s obvious that years after my parents’ divorces, I still have prevailing feelings and opinions about my experiences. However, I know all three of my parents made the right decisions for themselves, for their relationships, and, ultimately, for their children. Although I may not have role models for a healthy marriage, I do have role models who have taught me the importance of self-preservation and self-respect in relationships – familial, platonic, or romantic. I have forgiven my parents, as will your children if divorce was or will be your best option.
After being confined to an inadequate parenting schedule throughout my entire childhood and adolescence, I now implement my autonomy through conscious intention and introspective objectives. The different types of relationships I have created with my parents are ones that are most comfortable for me, whether it’s living with one during my summers home from college or seeing another every other week. I have come to terms with unconventional family trees and coordinating holidays, and I welcome questions from those unfamiliar with multiple homes so I can provide understanding and move to create a more compassionate and less intrusive community.
While there is no such thing as a perfect marriage or a perfect divorce, the best thing you can do during such a raw, demanding, and painful transition is to keep the best interest of your kids at the very forefront of your plan. They may not understand the complexity of the dissolution or the reasons behind it, but their health and their safety will be preserved.
So, I leave with this: divorce is complicated, expensive, laborious, and demanding. Divorce is many things, but it is not above your children. The most crucial and sometimes hardest goal is to preserve their childhood, provide as best as you can, and ensure that they know they are not responsible for the division of their family. Remain selfless whether it’s through a child-directed parenting schedule, seeking out a therapist or friend when you need to vent, or allowing your children space to modify their relationships. Take time to grieve for yourself and prepare for your obstacles so you can prepare your children for theirs.
While your failed marriage might have been a mistake, your children never were; never let them believe otherwise.