Hearing About Other People’s Divorces Helps Normalize Our Family For Our Daughter

divorce and childrenIf you’ve ever been through a divorce or separation, or know someone who has, you know you wouldn’t wish that pain, much like a death, on anyone. So how can I be happy when I find out that other parents in my daughter’s school are getting divorced? It sounds awful, and like I said, I don’t wish divorce or the pain of getting through one on anyone. In fact, I’m actually really sad when I hear of yet another marital breakdown. But then I can’t help but think, somewhat excitedly, “I can’t wait to tell my daughter!”

You’d have to know a little of our history to understand this. In my social group, I was one of the first, at age 29, to have a baby. Then, three years later, I was one of the first to get divorced. Technically, we never got married. However under the law, we had been living together long enough for our relationship to be considered a ‘marriage.’

It wasn’t hard on my daughter, since she was just turning three and, at that point, only really cared about walking around with a Dora the Explorer Band-Aid on her at all times. But, at school, none of her friends had divorced parents. Since my ex lives in a different city, my daughter lived entirely with me. She had no friends who just lived with their mommies, but that wasn’t a problem back when she was three and was still figuring out how to use toilet paper.

For three years, she was the only one in her class with divorced parents, and the only one who didn’t see her father every day. Now that she’s nine and understands her ‘story’ – mommy and daddy got drunk, we had her, our ‘oopsie’ baby, AND the best thing that’s ever happened to us – and also understands why her father and mother aren’t together and why we live in different cities, she is constantly asking questions about marriage. The other day she asked, ‘So, if you and Jordan (my fiancé) break up does that mean that you’ll no longer be his kids’ stepmother?” She’s just trying to figure out this whole modern family thing and how truly insane it can be.

She came home excited one day, two weeks ago, after she learned from one of her earliest friends that her parents were getting divorced. “Just like me!” she said. I swear, within one day, I heard that two other sets of parents at her school are now getting a divorce. I heard this not from them, but from other mothers, and, yes, I did feel bad and sad for them, but I also couldn’t wait to tell my daughter, which I did that night. “See? It happens to a lot of people. You’re not the only one!”

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  • http://twitter.com/DuchessCadbury The Right Honourable

    My father died when I was 8. I was the only kid in school (or knew) that had a parent die so early. So I know what it feels like. It’s morbid, but it helped me cope with friends and other people I knew had parents to pass. Until I was in high school, the only kids I identified with where the Kennedy’s, King’s and X’s. There’s strength in numbers.

  • Ellen Bruno

    Yes! Kids listen to other kids…and when they see that other kids have survived something difficult it gives them courage and inspiration. We are finishing a film for kids and divorce now…with exactly that in mind…kids talking to other kids…no adults, no “experts” just kids sharing their experiences. Have a peek: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1074778576/split-a-film-for-and-by-kids-of-divorce

  • Not That Rebecca

    This is an excellent, thoughtful, compassionate, mature and well written piece. Awesome.

    Also, it doesn’t sound at all as if you’re ‘glad’ anyone gets divorced or are at all mean spirited. It doesn’t come across that way at all. A friend of mine who survived a sexual assault said part of her is glad when a celebrity comes out about being raped not because she thinks anyone else should have to endure that, but because it makes her feel less lonely, and less like a freak. I think this is the same dynamic.

    Your daughter sounds like a mentsch in the making. Good on you.

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