Monday, July 29, 2013

Together and Apart

Divorce is something that is highly personal for me, and something that I have a very candid attitude toward. My parents divorced when I was three, and growing up with parents who had very separate lives was the norm for me. I am lucky to have been young enough that the emotional impact was lessened. I had two parents who were mature enough to respect one another even after they decided to longer live as a partnership. I never felt alone, and I always knew that both my parents had my best interests at heart. 
A couple years ago I witnessed as an adult how difficult divorce can be for families when my dad separated a second time, this time from my stepmother. They have two kids together and the emotional toll the separation took on my younger siblings was high. 
After my dad and stepmother’s divorce I was proud that my siblings were given a choice of which parent they wanted to spend their time with. I was not given this choice and I wonder how my life would be different if I had grown up spending more than just two weekends per month with my father. My brother and sister chose to stay with my dad, which made me fiercely proud. It got me wondering, however, why this decision should come as a surprise. Why shouldn’t it be more common for kids to be able to live with their fathers? There are many wonderful dads in the world who do not see their children as much as they would like. 
I understand that changing divorce law is beyond my scope, however, if there is to be any revision to the way these proceedings happen, it should be - in my opinion - that fathers are given just as much opportunity to provide a home for their children as mothers. The interests of the children in any divorce case should be kept at the forefront and parents should work together to ensure this happens. To ensure a healthy approach to the process of divorce it may be beneficial to recommend counseling to parents and children to aid in the process. This is something never offered to myself or my siblings, but having a safe environment to discuss fears, doubts, and questions may help to bring clarity into what can be a very confusing and painful experience. When ending a marriage and dividing a household, it can be too easy to get caught up in details. Being able to go through the process with a counsellor may help everyone involved to see the bigger picture. 
Finally, as someone who spent nearly my entire life as the product of a “broken home” I would like to move toward a society where divorce does not hold the same social stigma it currently does. There still seems to be a taboo around divorce and this makes the prospect even scarier for children. I have seen from my own life, that parents often thrive as individuals where they may have been stifled in their marriage. In fact, often times divorce can greatly benefit the entire family, allowing parents to grow as individuals and provide one-on-one time with their children. That said, I don’t feel that divorce should be taken lightly. I feel that all relationships take work and commitment. On both sides of my family my grandparents were married for over fifty years. My two sets of grandparents showed me that love can endure and that sometimes people find their perfect match. My parents taught me that sometimes the individual is stronger than the pair, and that divorce should not be feared. Separation is simply a part of life and it can make us stronger. It has made me who I am and I know I have become someone both of my parents - individually - are proud of. I don’t consider my home “broken”, I simply have two. 
This is a subject dear to me and one that I'm very passionate about. This post was inspired by Fine & Associates Family and Divorce Lawyers. 

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