“I am lucky my parents are divorced.” This statement uttered from the mouth of my nine year old at dinner the other day. A classmate had confided in her that her parents fight all the time and this classmate’s dad asked her what she thought if her parents got divorced. She went to Sophia to find out what that might really be like. Sophia’s reply was an honest one.
She explained, “I told her she gets two Christmases and birthdays. My mom is always happy and it is better than being in a house with fighting.” Anna, who is nearly 12, piped up “We were lucky, we didn’t even know it was a bad thing. It was just how it worked.” As crazy as it may sound coming from a divorce lawyer, I tend to tiptoe around the topic of our divorce. I guess I am afraid that a flood of anguish might suddenly hit them if I raise the topic or alternatively I am somewhat terrified of the “why” questions as they get older. This was one of the first times it had come up in the five years since it happened.
I asked what they liked least about having divorced parents. Anna replied, “vacations.” I was confused. She had just been skiing with her dad the previous weekend on vacation and had been gushing about the trip all week. “I wanted you there Mom. I wanted you to see what I was seeing.” That made sense. Surely we have all felt that when experiencing one of life’s joys and wishing someone that you loved – a parent, a sibling, a best friend, a child, could have been there and experienced the same joy.
Sophia said “Sometimes it’s inconvenient going back and forth, but I like it, there is nothing really bad about it.” How lucky am I that this is how they have processed their parents’ divorce?
While some of my circumstances were lucky – no abuse, no addictions, a co-parent willing to put our daughters first always – I have long observed while watching parents and children react to divorce over the past sixteen years, that children tend to do as well as their parents do. If the parents present all is well, their children experience as is well. If parents chose to expose their children to the ongoing conflict, children will experience tension and stress as a result.
What if you are a parent that has one of those unlucky facts? Then the luck is up to you. It is for you to decide how you want to show up and what demeanor you most want to present to your children who are always watching. Just as your children are a physical reflection of you, so too are their experiences in your home.
Children and parents of divorce often get a bad rap for being broken and damaged as a result of the change in their family circumstance. I share this alternate divorce perspective from my children to show that it is possible that your divorce will be their happy ending. We could not ask for better luck than that.