People who say that children will be “ruined” by divorce are speaking from fear and not moving toward the future with love.
By Elif Ekin
It is coming up on my 5-year divorce anniversary. Our life has shifted and changed so much that life pre-divorce seems like a lifetime ago. One day, I found myself looking outside at the blooming peach trees and took a moment to reflect on how much Mina has grown and blossomed over the years.
So many people had initially told me how much Mina would suffer as a result of divorce. On a whim, I went into Mina’s room and decided to ask her how life was since the divorce. She was all snuggled up in her bed reading about prairie dogs and sighed as she indulged my random question.
The biggest benefit for her was having stepsisters and not feeling so alone as an only child. Having the girls around helped Mina move through the sadness because they understood what she was going through. She felt lucky that her best friend was now her stepsister. Since there is only a few months difference in the age, they are able to have someone to talk to as they grow and mature. Just recently, both girls wanted to go and get training bras together. They have each other to talk to and feel supported by.
She also loves having a new, expanded family. We are trying hard to make the whole family tribe thing work, which includes being involved with Alex’s family, his ex and her family, and my family. Mina’s dad is getting married soon and the new stepmother’s family will fold into the mix as well. There is definitely no shortage of grandparents these days visiting and playing with Mina and the girls!
As we sat and chatted on Mina’s bed, she took a moment to think back to her old life as she compared it to her new one. “Mama,” she said, “do you know what I really like? I really enjoy having my time alone with you and my dad. It’s sad that you are not together anymore, but you both are happier now. That’s what makes me happy too!”
It’s hard on kids to see their parents so unhappy. There is staleness to the air when there is no laughter, no dancing, no smiling. Even if you are not fighting or arguing in front of the children, they feel it all around them. It penetrates all that you do together or not do together.
I didn’t want a loveless marriage to be an example for her. I would rather be alone and strong in my own self than less than authentic in a failed relationship.
Children benefit from watching us parents standing strong in our truth, unapologetically. I want Mina to learn to articulate her needs, wants and desires. I want her to see a loving relationship; I want her to learn how to communicate with empathy and compassion. By observing divorce and life after, she is gaining these skills and anchoring them in a new way of living more authentically, honestly, and with strength.
People who say that children will be “ruined” by divorce are speaking from fear and not moving toward the future with love. I chose divorce from a place of love. I had hope for a better life for all of us: me, my ex, and, most of all, Mina. I saw a quote the other day by Jennifer Weiner: “Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love.” If we, as parents, don’t stop the cycle of pushing through a loveless marriage then our children will learn and replicate it. Is that what we wish for our children? A loveless marriage? No, I didn’t think so.
The greatest benefit our children can gain from divorce is to be removed from the dysfunction and be able to thrive and learn a new, healthier way to have ad keep relationships.