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Looking on the Bright Side of Divorce

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Looking on the Bright Side of Divorce

My family enjoys a happy afternoon together when I was a young child. My parents decided to divorce in 2009.

My family enjoys a happy afternoon together when I was a young child. My parents decided to divorce in 2009.

Carol Deatrick

My family enjoys a happy afternoon together when I was a young child. My parents decided to divorce in 2009.

Carol Deatrick

Carol Deatrick

My family enjoys a happy afternoon together when I was a young child. My parents decided to divorce in 2009.

Emily M. '22, Reporter

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My parents are divorced, but my family is not broken. I’m not living the Disney Channel teenage dream, either, but I consider my family life to be pretty stable. Having divorced parents has been difficult over the past nine years, but it has brought surprisingly positive effects and ultimately made me feel stronger.

In 2009, when I was five years old, my parents decided to separate. My three-year-old sister and I were too young to fully understand what was happening, so the entire ordeal didn’t mean much to us. As little kids, it just seemed like our parents lived in different houses, and nothing more. At that time, we became two of the 2,589 new children of divorced parents in 2009.

The original custody plan, which stayed in place for a few years, ensured that the time I spent with each parent was (almost) equal. I would live at our original house with my mom on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, and the occasional Friday, and I stayed at my dad’s new apartment on the remaining days. I spent practically every night in a different place, and switching back and forth became the new normal. The custody agreement is different now and, quite frankly, I think I miss it.

However, those relatively stable years weren’t perfect. The split time made extremely clear the stark differences between my parents. For instance, they had very different opinions on the definition of “late.” I arrived early to dance classes and school whenever my mother took me, but my father seemed to cut it close pretty regularly.

By law, I have to be with each parent for half of the major holidays, which I don’t mind at all. We’ve worked out Thanksgiving and Easter, but Christmas continues to be a source of anxiety year after year. I can’t choose where I wake up in the morning or which family party I attend. I won’t be able to make these decisions until I’m eighteen, but I look forward to being able to decide.

Now, the custody agreement is still split almost exactly in half with some rearrangements. I stay with my dad from Monday night until Wednesday and with my mom from Wednesday night until Friday. We alternate on weekends, so I stay at one place for five nights in a row. This helps immensely because I am able to sleep in the same bed for longer, something I had not been able to do in a while. It also cuts down on travel time since my mom lives near Middletown.

One recurring problem I cannot escape, even with the new agreement, is the packing. I plan my outfits each week based on what clothes are at which house. Because of this, I’ve dealt with missing uniform skirts, misplaced dance shoes, and jackets that ended up twenty miles away from where they should be. Some of these mistakes didn’t end too well, but I continue to hone my packing skills.

I was not always as accepting of change as I am currently. When we first switched to alternating weekends, I did not take it very well. It seemed unfair to me that I couldn’t choose where I wanted to be and when. The final change to our present plan resulted in an even worse reaction. I was still confused as to why I had no say in the agreement. It still occasionally bothers me to this day, but I have gradually come to terms with the problem.

I don’t usually take the time to address it, but I have definitely noticed how my parents’ divorce has greatly improved their own relationship. Except for a few minor disagreements, I’ve never witnessed my parents truly fighting. It makes me happy to see that things are much better than they were back in 2009 in regards to how they interact. I know they only want what’s best for my sister and me.

The most important lesson I’ve learned throughout this experience is not to choose sides. In many cases, the media tells us children of divorce that we have to pick a favorite parent, but I disagree. I used to think that one day I would decide to live exclusively with one of them, and that mindset plunged me into negativity. I tried to convince myself that I loved one parent more than the other, but I am happier now knowing that I love them equally.

Another positive outcome is that my sister and I have become considerably closer because we’ve been dealing with the same difficulties from such a young age. Our relationship continues to grow and strengthen through both the good times and the bad. I have also noticed an increase in my optimism rather than in my pessimism. I began to realize that, no matter how hard life became, it could only get better as the days progressed.

Although my circumstances are anything but ideal, I still love my family, which is what matters most. I feel lucky to have awesome parents who care about me unconditionally, and I am so blessed to have been able to make the best out of the situation.

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About the Writer
Emily M. '22, Reporter

Meet Emily. She is excited to make new friends and start a new chapter in her life as her freshman year at Padua Academy begins.

Emily is the oldest...

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