“I’m really upset about it,” a woman told me after she learned that an acquaintance of hers was getting divorced. “I mean, I hardly even know them. But… they have children. It just breaks my heart.”
I bit my tongue and looked away.
Now is not the time to get on your soap box, I reminded myself. She’s entitled to her feelings. Just let it go.
While I maintained an even facial expression, the woman’s words infuriated me. She openly admitted that she didn’t know anything about the situation and yet she assumed the divorce was a tragedy simply because the couple had children.
I know divorce can be a sad event. I know the separation process is one filled with anxious uncertainty, and everyone needs support. But I also know that divorce is often the last resort of a desperately unhappy couple. And I know that, if handled responsibly, the transition can benefit a family. As a result of my personal experience, I prefer to view divorce as a solution to a slew of family problems.
In an article for DivorcedMoms.com, I wrote that Divorce is tough, but childhood is tougher. We seem to forget that kids deal with a lot of hardships independent of their parents’ marital status. To name a few: bullying, illness/death in the family, violence in the home, adolescence and academic struggles. Divorce, by nature, is not the only, nor does it have to be the worst of a child’s troubles.
Question: What’s worse than a child enduring the breakup of his/her parents?
My Answer: A child living with role models who openly despise each other.
It’s dangerous to assume that an intact marriage is a happy one. Under pressure to “stay together for the kids,” couples model unhealthy habits for their children. Do we really want boys and girls to grow up thinking it’s normal to accept physical, verbal or psychological abuse from one’s partner? Do we want them to deal with conflict via the Silent Treatment or temper tantrums? No!
Divorce is an unfortunate reality, yet it also offers an opportunity for children to learn about life. What positive lessons might come from such an experience?
- There’s hope in bad situations.
- This, too, shall pass.
- Conflict means the beginning of an opportunity.
- I don’t have to take it.
- It’s OK to be “me.”
- I’m worthy of love and respect.
- The rules of respectful communication are…
- There are many different kinds of families.
- I’m in charge of my own happiness.
- Sometimes people can love each other more effectively if they do so from a distance.
Why don’t we stop judging and start trusting people who make the hard decision to divorce? The process could be a lot nicer if our society wasn’t so heartbroken about matters they don’t fully understand.
What lessons did you learn from your divorced parents? Or what do you hope your children will learn from your divorce?