Divorce. It’s a seemingly routine response to marriage, one that appears to be more common in today’s families than not.
Coming from a family with a history of divorce, I don’t have clear memories of what it’s like to live with both of my parents in a conventional sense. It has always been my mom and my stepdad, my mom and her new boyfriend and occasional visits with my dad on weekends. This back-and-forth pattern has never really made me sad or angry, it is just how my family has always worked.
I can’t honestly say that I wish my parents were still together. When talking to friends, it is surprising to find out that some have parents who are still together because it seems so uncommon. My relationship with both my parents have been strained at times and great at others. I know the same is true for my friends with parents who are together.
Life with parents whether they are divorced or together is nuanced and complicated, leaving a lot to be desired in some areas and an excess of good in others.
When parents get divorced while their children are still young, like the parents of Samantha Borunda ‘20, “it kind of sucks,” but, “it’s part of my normal schedule because I’ve done it for so long,” she said. This “it” that Borunda notes is the going back and forth, being split between two houses and not seeing her dad for long periods. “Time goes by really slowly when he’s gone,” she stated.
This complicated schedule with her father is one that I can relate to: my relationship with my dad is for the most part tense and I don’t get to see him often. Yet as with all things, there are both positive and negative aspects to the amount I get to visit him.
Studies show that children do best when they have a healthy relationship with both of their biological parents but of course, this isn’t always positive. Not seeing my dad often has the negative impact on me of not having a consistent father figure. However, I do learn to be more independent and less reliant on him when I don’t get to visit.
I can’t speak for every child whose parents are divorced, all I can truly speak for is my own personal experience. Even then, it’s complicated.
However different life with divorced parents is, it is my assumption that a vast majority of children have wondered what it would be like their parents hadn’t gotten divorced. Not everyone wishes their parents were together, but the thought has definitely crossed my mind. Would I be living in the house where I am living now? Would I go to the same school? Would I have the same friends? As Borunda explained, “every once in a while I have the thought, I wonder what it would be like if my parents were still together? How drastically would my life be different?”
Lauren Steward ‘20 has a different experience. Her parents have only been split for two years and she lives with her dad. Her visitation with her mom ranges from twice a week to twice a month.
“You learn that you have this dependency on them,” she said, referring to her relationship with her parents once they split up, “and you can’t depend on them as you used to. There’s kind of the absence of that and you have to learn to be independent.”
Her situation is unique in that her dad doesn’t drive, so once her mom moved out, it was difficult for Steward to arrange ways to get to school and practice. Since her mom isn’t driving her, they don’t get to see each other that often which creates a rift in their relationship. This dependency on her parents to drive her places is a sort of a “sore spot,” she said, because it is hard for her to ask people for favors.
When her mom moved out, Steward “got closer to her in some ways, but also farther from her,” which is something I understand. My relationship with my dad, since I don’t have a license yet, mostly revolves around him driving me. We connect during those short car rides, but once they are over, the connection dissipates.
I wouldn’t wish for my parents to get back together because I believe my life is the way it is for a reason. Life goes on and since it is what I am used to, my parents being divorced is just as normal as others’ being together.
In the end, sometimes having divorced parents is great and other times it is really unfavorable. But, I know that the imperfections of family life run through all different home systems, not just ones that are separated. Memories of fights and anger come just as often as memories of fun and connectedness. Ultimately, I am able to understand that where I am and where my family is today is a part of life that is hard to grapple with at times but contributes to the happiness that is in my life.