The Kids Will Be Alright: When Divorce is Best

October 10, 2013  |  

Divorce is never an easy thing for couples, especially those who have children to think about. I’m convinced that’s why so many prolong the inevitable by remaining in a failing relationship. “I want to leave but how will it affect the children?” Though every situation and circumstance is different, I am here to tell you that the kids will be alright.

My parents ended their marriage when I was 5 years old, and it’s a decision that still affects me today in my adult life. Though I was young, I can remember living in a household with parents trying to make their marriage work for my sake–and honey, it was no walk in the park for anyone. Forget the daily bickering and arguments over who contributes the most or brings in more money; it was pure chaos just living under one roof with a tension you could cut with a knife.

Maybe they assumed because I was young that I didn’t understand or know what’s going on and to that fact, they were probably right. I’m sure if I looked through a dictionary at that age I couldn’t find the word divorce let alone define it. This, however, did not mean that I was completely oblivious to their unhappiness and I think this is where some parents get it wrong. Just because there are children involved doesn’t mean they don’t have some sense of what’s happening, whether you choose to argue in public or make a conscious effort to keep it behind closed doors.

It’s weird, but I have memories spending time out with my mom where I saw her laugh and smile only to clinch my hand when it came time to head back home. My father was the same way. I can recall sing-alongs in the car (Lisa Stansfield’s “Been Around the World” was my favorite at the time) after our father-daughter time. And when we got to the house, dead silence from both of them. It honestly got so annoying that I would opt to remove myself from the situation by shutting my bedroom door and watching the Disney Channel.

After several months of this tap dance, my folks decided to call it quits and officially divorce. “Tan, we have something to tell you,” they both began one night. “Though Mommy and Daddy love you very much, we have to make some changes for this family that include us not living together anymore.”

“Does that mean you are breaking apart?” I recall asking the two. “Yes,” my dad answered. “Well, it’s about time,” I responded which to this day still shocks them.

Now, obviously all children are going to have a different reaction to changes in their house, but for me, I was beyond fed up with the whole situation and just wanted peace. And after they divorced, that is exactly what we all got. Thankfully, my parents were able to put their differences aside and co-parent in a way that has truly blessed my life. My mother dropped me off to school each morning and my father picked me up. They split weekends evenly and for the holidays my dad always came over to spend time with me. Heck, there were even times when we would all go to the mall together to shop for school stuff, how weird is that?

The point I am trying to make is this: children catch on when there’s strife and resentment in the house which can do more damage than the thought of a divorce. Though you may make the decision to try and work it out or call it quits just know how you handle it can often be the determining factor in how your kids handle the blow. Should the unfortunate happen in my own marriage where it’s best for us to part, I will take away the memories of my parents and how they made divorce work for them. I don’t look at them as failing to keep our family together but rather mature in their ability to co-parent and their love they both have for me.

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