Speaking Out: Voices of Adult Children of Divorce
This is the third in a series of blogs on this topic.
In my first blog of this series, I wrote about how parents told their children about the divorce (from the adult child's perspective) and how it felt to have divorced parents. In the second blog, I asked people what was the most difficult situation they faced as a result of their parents’ divorce. Today we look at the positive outcomes of divorce as felt by the adult children of divorce.
If couples are unhappy in a marriage, then perhaps the divorce can bring some positive to their lives and the lives of their children. The majority of people in my survey felt that some good had come out their parents' divorce. Four of the families got away from violent situations, five said there was less tension in their parents’ relationship with less fighting, and fourteen wrote about a parent finding new love, relationships, and/or marriage.
Jonathan said, “Maybe, by them getting a divorce, it saved their friendship.”
Many people wrote about the strength and positive changes that they saw in their mothers. Moms grew stronger in character because they were single and were role models for daughters:
“M” said, “My mother became stronger, and grew in many ways. She began dating and eventually married my stepfather, who was an incredibly warm and caring man who loved all of us very very much.”
Patrice recognized the strength of her mother as a single mother. “My mother was awesome as a single mom. I don't think she'd have come into her self and found feminism if she'd been married.”
Lisa learned from her mom, “She (my mother) showed us to go after what you want, not to give up, to keep a positive attitude regardless of sh*tty circumstances, surround yourself with people who love you for friendship and support, and to BOUNCE...Be Resilient...”
“It was the best thing that could have happened and I'm grateful that I lived with my mom. It is because of her that I have good values, am a good person, educated, and have a good job as a teacher.”, said Tovah.
Relationships with fathers improved too, these women felt that they had more time to spend with their dads:
Trine said, “My relationship with my father grew stronger since we had more dedicated time together. Our family life was very stable and comfortable after the divorce. There was no more fighting or arguing and everyone got along better.”
Amy shared, “There was so much less fighting, anger, and violence in the house. The house I lived in with my dad became a home and safe haven for me again. My relationship with my dad also got much better. We were honest and open with each other about things.”
Anonymous feels, “I am very close to my father, and I am careful with my heart. I am marrying a wonderful man, and I took my time in finding him because I only intend on doing this once. Everyone says that, but we took our time getting engaged and have worked hard to have excellent and honest communication.”
A couple of people wrote about their resolve for the future of their own relationships and how important it is to work things out.
Jay said, “It also made me realize that divorce was not going to be an option for me. I was going to find someone I love, get married and stay happily together, even if there were some trying times that we had to go through.”
Amy felt similarly, “I got married very young, 18 years old, but I went into with the mindset that if things got bad we would try to work it out, not just walk away. I just celebrated my 15-year wedding anniversary. “
One of the strongest positives that people wrote about is their own self- growth and awareness because they have divorced parents. Also, they felt they deserved to be happy in a relationship.
Traci said, “I have since learned that we all deserve to be ourselves and deserve to be happy. And healthy relationships -- partnerships-- can exist. “
Susan acknowledges, “I am totally independent. Can do (or teach myself to do) almost anything, travel anywhere, pay my own way, live my own life. I am up front and sometimes too honest (with others, anyway). I have realistic expectations about truth, money, relationships, etc. “
Jessica learned, “I have deep compassion for others, which I don't think I would have if I didn't go through such a hard situation.”
Stephanie wouldn’t be who she is today, “I guess if my parents never got divorced I wouldn't be where I am today. Never would have changed schools, found my passion, met my husband, went to art school and started my own business.”
“NC” recognized that the divorce was good for both of his parents, “They both eventually had a chance to be who they were meant to be, with significant limitations due to age, illness, and financial constraints. But each found new or previously dormant parts of themselves and let them blossom. It was glorious to see! "
It’s clear that a happy divorce is better than an unhappy marriage. I’ve enjoyed learning about this subject from others. I’ve been a child of divorce for 45 years and much of what was shared resonated with me. If you or someone you know would like to share your story about your parents’ divorce, please contact me at email@example.com.
Jody Comins, MSW is a Divorce & Family Mediator and Collaborative Coach in the Greater Boston area. She is an adult child of divorce and uses her experience to create a child-centered practice at A Better Way: Divorce Mediation. She is a mentor for volunteer mediators in the Norfolk Probate & Family Court and a court approved facilitator for the required parenting classes in MA.