Being a parent who comes from a divorced home shapes your life in ways that you might not even realize until you’re confronted face-to-face with the ways in which your upbringing affects your adult life, both in good and bad ways. It's hard to really gauge how divorce affects kids, but having come from it ourselves, we've got a bit of an understand of its repercussions. Often, the hardest part about divorce is the separation of a child from his or her parents, and if you've been a child of divorce, you know that firsthand.
Whether it’s trust, commitment, or fear of being left alone, women specifically who have grown up with divorced parents are often pegged with having “issues,” which is vaguely sexist and reductive and often untrue, but sidestepping all of that, we can say it's fair that if anyone, male or female, grows up in a home where there's turmoil (which divorce doesn't always, but frequently creates), they are probably going to have a few more issues to work out as an adult than most people. And while an absence of a demonstrated template of conventional family normalcy is certainly reason to second guess your own capabilities, it also serves as an invaluable tool.
Instead of allowing our parents' marital mistakes to handicap us, those of us who came from divorced parents very often to learn to use the painful parts of our family's past as motivation to rise above and try to have healthier relationships, or make choices that are most correct for us. Sure, divorce comes with a slew of negative side effects, but it also leaves many important parenting lessons behind in its wake. In fact, if we use those lessons to our advantage, they can aid us in exceeding our own parenting expectations. These lessons were undoubtedly difficult to learn but their impact will positively shape the lives of our children in ways that we can’t even begin to comprehend.
Here are eight ways coming from a divorced home can actually end up making you a better parent when you have kids of your own:
We're The Best Listeners
There’s a huge difference between merely hearing someone and actually listening to them. Having felt like our cries were sometimes secondary to our parents’ marital issues, we know how disheartening it can be to feel unheard. Putting those negative feelings to use helps us to better listen to our own children and our partners.
It's important that our children know that we are listening to them, and that what they have to say is important. It's the cornerstone of a strong relationship with them; it's one of the greatest tools to have when raising children. And we probably wouldn't be nearly as good at it if we hadn't personally seen the negative consequences of poor listening in families.
We Communicate More Effectively
Outside of money, communication is the number one issue in many marriages. Everyone communicates differently so it’s understandable that there’s a learning curve that’s sometimes never mastered by couples. Since people who have come from divorced homes have seen the wrath of these problems, we get a little more creative at getting our points across effectively.
We're More Encouraging Of Our Kids' Aspirations
Amid the stress (both financial and emotional) of divorce, kids' goals and interests and aspirations often get cast aside, and that clearly sucks. Parents are supposed to encourage their kids to chase their dreams, no matter how lofty some may seem, not squash all hope before breakfast is even over. Just because our kids may choose to follow paths that are different than what we'd want for them, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're wrong.
Parents whose own parents got divorced understand that importance of keeping focus on the positive with kids, and not letting life stress get in the way of being an unwavering source of support for our kids. We're more intent on encouraging our kids to embrace own their uniqueness. They want to be ballerinas? Sure, go ahead. Banana farmers? That’s cool too. Follow your heart, kid.
We Try Harder At Everything
Marriage isn’t easy and parenting is even harder. Getting along with another person every hour of every day is unrealistic but we do our damnedest to try. We’ve seen relationships fall apart before and we've felt the sting that comes with separation. Not every couple makes it to the end of the game together, and that is perfectly normal and totally OK, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't still hurt all those involved in the process. Parents from divorced homes have zero interest in contributing to the already sad statistics. If anything, we’re motivated by them. Is it easy? Ha! No. But it's worth it.
Giving Up Is Not An Option For Us
A frequent criticism thrown at children of divorce is that we don't know how to commit because it wasn't modeled for us. This...is frustrating, and largely untrue; just because our parents' marriage didn't work out, that doesn't mean they are people who are fundamentally incapable of commitment, or that we didn't totally learn how to not be flakes ourselves. Even still, adult children of divorce can understandably end up carrying this particular chip on their shoulder — we want to prove that just because our parents "quit" (ugh, that's so not how it works usually, but whatever) their marriage, we aren't quitters ourselves. Being that that's true, throwing in the towel on anything for us is especially difficult. Whether it’s mastering fractions again for the sake of our kids’ homework or learning how to poach the perfect egg, we will exhaust all options before we even think about calling anything quits. Tenacity is always necessary for us, even when it’s actually sort of unnecessary. (Who poaches eggs anyway? Totally impractical.)
We Definitely Understand How To Be Patient
It’s safe to say that we pause and count to 10 on a daily basis more than Kimmy Schmidt does. Having been burnt by short fuses before (I'm sorry, but no matter how chill your parents are, when people are going through a divorce, tempers run short and it sucks when you're a kid around that kind of tense energy), we practice the fine art of deep breathing and cursing under our breaths when we’re feeling impatient.
Sure, our kids deserve our undivided attention for however long they need it, but that doesn't mean that answering 27 questions about the sky doesn't get annoying at some point. It's also important that we display patience with our partners. Relationships can be frustrating and arguments hurt sometimes, but having patience in the midst of tension is so so important to salvage stability. It's not that all people aren't capable of showing patience within their familial relationships, but people who weathered a divorce in their family as a kid have extra inclination to try hard in this area.
We're Incredibly Supportive Of Our Kids And Partners
Coming from a divorced home often creates a rift between the divorcees, leaving their children to emotionally fend for themselves sometimes. Some of our interests may have been tossed to the side while our parents focused on theirs instead, no matter how good our parents' intentions were. That’s not cool and we don't want our kids to experience that sort of hurt. They, and our partners, will always have our unconditional support.
We Learned Not What To Do The Hard Way
Not all divorces are ugly, but they don’t come about unsolicited; If two people are getting divorced, something didn't go according to plan. Mistakes were made, or situations were called incorrectly. It could have been as simple as just growing apart or as awful as...well, lots of awful things can lead to divorce. Either way, there’s a reason why it didn’t work out and whatever that reason is, we’re determined to not let that hinder our own relationships with our spouses, co-parents, or our children. Divorce is inevitably sad: It marks the end of an era that was most likely founded on love, but fell apart somewhere down the line. But not all is lost after a divorce. There are still lessons to be learned and love to be found. We are in charge of how we decide to use those lessons and how we choose to share that love, and parents who grew up in homes where a divorce happened have a really good incentive to use that experience to make them stronger parents.