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With the emotional and physical strains of divorce, adults probably don’t think much of their children during such a time. That is, unless their children act as anchors-sometimes slowing, and even stopping, the divorce process. In fact, I think it is a common fact that divorce takes more time and patience, and probably paperwork, when you have kids. Perhaps, this is why most kids feel upset and at fault for their parents’ split. “Not now, can’t you see? I’m going through a divorce,” selfish parents might say.
I wasn’t one of those kids who felt guilty. When my parents divorced, I knew better. I remember, as an eight-year-old in third grade, being put into a counseling group at school (against my will, I might add) along with other children whose parents had divorced as well.
“My parents divorced for me,” I would say when it was my turn to speak.
The counselor would shun such an idea. “You are not at fault for your parents’ divorce,” she would state, like it was an automatic response programmed into her mechanical head. We went through the same routine every day. She never once gave me a chance to explain.
See, I knew my parents divorced for me, not because of me. They didn’t have much in common, and happened to disagree on a number of subjects. As a result, they fought almost daily. Their divorce was not caused by the fact that they didn’t want to be with each other; it was done to protect my older brother and me; it was for our own good.
Though divorce is common, it’s still pretty tough to live through. Strangely, I didn’t feel any morose whatsoever at the fact that my family was splitting apart. I think this is, in part, because of the fact that I was still young at the time of my parents’ divorce, and thus, I was ignorant and naïve. It wasn’t hard to be ignorant, though. My parents were never together as it was, and my brother and I saw that as normal. My mom worked during the week and locked herself in her room with her guitar at night, and my dad transitioned between hunting and working long shifts at his shop. For me, reality didn’t actually sink in until the day my dad left.
I don’t remember much of that evening, except that the weather was nice. The setting sun, with its deep shades of orange and red, created a warm, comfortable atmosphere, casting shadows over the lawn. I remember standing in the cement driveway, feet bare, watching as my dad loaded his things into the trunk of his car. It was hard to believe that he was leaving the home that he and my mom had built together as a couple. Despite frequent assurances that we would see each other often, I felt a sense of angst and loneliness as I watched his car disappear around the bend.
Things only went downhill from there. Without the monetary support from my dad, my mom was unable to pay the mortgage. Luckily, by this time, my mom had met someone new, and he agreed to let us move in with him when we put our house up for sale. My brother, being a defiant adolescent, didn’t like that idea. Instead, he decided to move in with his own dad (we have different dads). Unfortunately, such a move not only required that we pack up and leave, but it also involved transferring to another school in the middle of the school year.
With a new school and a new home, we were lucky to finally find some stability in our lives, yet there was still a lot of adjusting to do. Luckily, my parents had agreed to share joint custody of me. This was good, because I wouldn’t have to deal with the loss of a parent. I saw my dad two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and every other weekend, and I was with my mom the rest of the time.
Though we’ve moved a few more times, and even welcomed some new kids to the family, not much has changed in the eight or nine years since then. Among the things that are different, I think, is the person that I’ve grown to be. My parents’ divorce taught me to be cautious with whom I choose to trust, and to think before I speak. Also, I’m more careful with making decisions than I ever would have been without witnessing their separation. Seeing the unhappiness in my parents’ faces and hearing the anger in their voices as they fought has convinced me to be smart about my future as well. Thus, I’m constantly striving to succeed in school, and recently, I’ve been involved in the community, volunteering my time and effort to charitable events and organizations. I think it is extremely vital to help individuals who have been through difficult times, like my family and me.
Alas, there has been another change in my life as well. My mom now has full custody of me, as she has for the past few years, and I’m ashamed to admit that my dad and I grew apart. We haven’t seen each other for the last eighteen months, and we haven’t spoken for the last five or six. Ironically, I feel the same as I did when my parents first divorced so long ago; I don’t mind that I don’t see or speak to my dad. Though I may regret it in the future, I don’t miss him, and I rarely think of him.
Perhaps then, it is the children that don’t think much of their parents during a divorce, and not vice versa, for they are too concerned with their own lives and their own problems to think of the sacrifices their parents choose to make for the chance to experience a better, brighter future. I, myself, do feel guilty for ignoring the difficulty of my parents’ divorce, but on the other hand, my ignorance has aided me through the most difficult times during those years, and it has greatly contributed to the person I am today.