Submitted by Kristen Berry
Divorce sucks! But for some it can be awesome. Both the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards of divorce can, at times, be fruitful: twice the Christmas, twice the competition of parents’ love through gifts, and more quality time with each parent.
Unfortunately, for many it is not all rainbows and butterflies. Heartbreak, feelings of blame, and neglect are all common side effects of divorce.
The chances are, if your parents aren’t divorced, then your best friend’s parents are. Divorce is a common thing where traditionally the focus is on the parents instead of the kids.
Out of a survey of 95 random kids from Minarets High School, 46 kids had parents that were divorced and 49 kids had parents still together. This is a shocking number; nearly half of marriages end in divorce. I interviewed some of the kids whose parents were divorced and expected to get a bunch of negative feedback, however, the responses were very diverse.
One respondent felt his parents’ divorce, although hard, strengthened his relationship with his little brother. He got to be the big brother and protect his younger sibling while offering advice. He added this nugget, “Always tell your kids the truth, that’s all they want.” It was easier for him to get through it all because his dad was very honest about everything that was going on, and it helped with the pain and confusion.
Seeking to bring positive things out of a negative experience, another respondee talked about having two half brothers who lived with his dad. At ease with the situation, he saw them enough to be a big brother. However, he didn’t have to share his X-box at home. It’s not all good though. It was difficult for him to schedule time with his dad, especially with him constantly moving, due to financial instability.
Other students however, had nothing but negative feedback about the whole situation.
One girl struggled as her parents got divorced, she said how hard it was for her when all of their attention was being put into the divorce. She felt neglected and alone. At age 13, she got an older boyfriend, trying to be noticed. He took advantage of her, and she felt like she didn’t have anyone she could trust to tell. A year later she told her God-mom, and had her tell her own mother, because she didn’t feel comfortable telling her. Eventually, after living with her dad and trusting him, she told him face to face.
She can’t help but feel that it was all because of the lack of attention during such a hard time in her life. According to the book The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study written by Judith Wallerstein, one in five the girls in the study had her first sexual experience before she was 14. More than half of the girls were sexually active with more than one partner during high school.
Often times, children blame their emotional problems on their parents. One student’s parents got divorced before she was born, and her dad was very open about not wanting her.
“I found out he didn’t want me, and wished I was never born. This made me feel like no one else would ever want me.” Having her dad abandon her and never getting to meet him created a huge hole inside of her. These holes are often filled with negative influences.
Divorce can lead to strong emotions and often times, anger issues. One student has been experiencing severe anger issues ever since his parents got divorced 3 months ago.
“I come to school and get signed out within twenty minutes of being there, someone pisses me off and I’m scared of what I’ll do to them if I go through the day. I’m very short tempered, I never was this way before.”
When asked if his life would be very different if his parents hadn’t divorced, he began to list out all the things that would be different.
“I wouldn’t have as much anger, I wouldn’t be depressed, I would be doing better in school, I’d be lot happier.” He says he tries to deal with it by working whenever he can, just trying to think about anything else. He says if he has any advice for people going through divorce, it’s this: “Don’t push the people who love you the most away; talk about things no matter how much you don’t want to.”
After hearing all the stories, I was left gutted. Parents need to realize they can’t leave their kids in the dust. Be there for your kids no matter what selfish agendas you have. You can always get remarried, but kids can’t just get new parents. They’re left in between you two. It leaves kids feeling drained, and pulled both ways, until there’s only a string left before they rip.
Don’t talk badly about their mom or their dad in front of them. Your kids don’t want to hear how much you hate their dad or their mom. They want to hear that you love them, that you’ll be there for them, and that you’ll never leave.
It’s like how author Margaret Atwood once said, “A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.”
Kristen Berry is a Minarets student enrolled in Digital Writing