Last week I was listening to an NPR news piece about the big “D” word (Divorce!) and how it affects the children of the marriage. The piece was based off the recent flux of same-sex divorces after several states have passed same-sex marriage. Colorado, who passed same-sex marriage back in 2012, saw it’s first divorce filing late last month. I did some reading into the supporting articles and recent studies about divorce have two interesting findings. First, the divorce rate in same-sex relationships is extremely low in states that allow same-sex marriage. Keep in mind, in California alone, 75% of all couples will divorce at least once in during their lifetime. Another interesting finding, states that allow same-sex couples to marry have shown after the passing of such law, the states divorce rate sees a steady decline year after year.
What caught my interest in this radio piece was that when experts looked at these findings, they all agreed that with these new statistics, that about 70% of children today will see their parents divorce by the age of 18. That’s an astonishing number. So 7 out of 10 of your child’s friends will experience a divorce during their childhood or adolescence.
That number may seem high but it’s real! In her 3 years of preschool, Paley saw several close friends go through the dramatic change of divorce or separation. By the end of her third year (age 5), half of the families in her class were either divorced, separated or in the process of divorcing. By age 5, she’s already seen 50% of her friends affected by divorce. I say affected because, truly they are affected to some degree. Over those 3 years, I participated off and on in the classroom and saw almost all of her classmates blossom over those 3 years. I also saw them work their way through many personal challenges just like Paley.
Recently I met up with an old friend of mine who shared with me their new struggle with divorce. We talked about the divorce process, their child and how they will make sure the child is not affected. I told my friend it was admirable to make that the focus of the divorce but I shared with them what I’ve seen with my own sister’s divorce as well as many friends. I brought up the fact that more than half of Paley’s preschool class was divorced or separated and how I did see how each child was affected. Almost all of the children were not the same after the initial separation. The conversation ended with me offering the advice, “it’s wonderful you want to protect your child but they will be affected one way or another and you might want to provide a neutral outlet for the child to express themselves during the divorce”.
Sadly my friend was a little defensive toward my advice and unfortunately my apology was not enough to save our friendship. I hope one day in the future we can salvage that friendship. I felt bad I told the truth, but the truth hurts!
Divorce hurts and it’s truly all about facing the truth about your relationship. It’s a painful process and more importantly divorce hurts everyone involved, parents, children, grand parents, siblings and even teachers. So many parents forget, when their child attends school, the child's teacher is an extension of your family. Lets be honest, if you work, your child's teacher see’s your child more than you do during the school year. Heck, the whole year!
Teachers and even caregivers are the first to be aware of any change in your child’s life. So don’t be alarmed or offended when your teach asks you about how are things at home. Be honest! Be up front! Paley went through many hurdles her last year of preschool and her teacher was my first line of defense to make her life easier. Without her, she would have certainly been affected greatly by the twins arrival and non-departure.
It’s sad to see the one’s you love go through such a painful process. But divorce is such necessity when the truth just plainly points to an unhappy family. What I am alarmed about is how divorce is becoming so normal or so common in my generation and all the subsequent generations. We all have our struggles in marriage but the whole point of marriage and the vows, is to grow and change together. Find something new and fight for something old or lost. When you loose that passion to fight, it’s so hard to get it back and I think that’s why most people give up the fight. Clem and I have had our struggles in the last 13 years. I’m the first to admit, I am the huge drama queen in the relationship. Over those 13 years, I’ve learned to identify and tackle my bad behavior in our relationship. Tackle it to the ground, no not your spouse, your bad habit. Well maybe your spouse if their rope and blindfolds involved.
Fighting for your relationship is a lot of work but so rewarding when there are kids at stake. I've seen so many friends go through tough times and so many have talked about throwing in the towel. Their hearts and passion for their families usually win in the end and it's amazing to see them triumph.