Children Of Divorce Are Anything But Resilient
As election season gets going and both parties put their spin machines into high gear, I am reminded of the happy talk divorce advocates have been spinning for over 40 years - kids are resilient. Generally speaking, we all know that kids are resilient when it comes to many of the knocks and bruises in their lives. When it comes to divorce, however, history has proven otherwise.
Merriam-Webster defines resilient as:
- tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
- able to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
- able to return to an original shape after being pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
- capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
After divorce, large numbers of children of divorce turn to drugs, alcohol, sex and suicide. Many end up in poverty. Those who fare better still carry heavy emotional scars into adulthood, with 89% more likely to divorce than peers from intact families. And, they have a life expectancy that’s five years shorter, too.
Just as politicians often try and spin the truth, attempting to show that a bad thing was really a good thing, divorce advocates do the same. I married in my mid-twenties, and divorced after two years, before my wife and I had kids. On one hand, it was great we parted before we had kids. On the other hand, we should have figured things out before we got married. We should have worked harder to continue our marriage, too, because our divorce contributed to the cheapening of marriage. I read somewhere we had what is now called a "starter marriage." As if a "starter marriage" is a stepping stone to something better. Yet another spin of misconception in our society-- second marriages fail at higher rates than first ones.
Just as politicians disguise things with fancy names, I recently read about lawyers and judges who refer to divorcing spouses as the" leaning out " spouse – the one who wants out period -- and the " hopeful" spouse, the onewho wants to reconcile. In simple English, we’d call these spouses the "quitter" and the "committed." In any other context, you’d think it would be positive to be "hopeful." I’ve read that in divorce court, however, "hopeful " clients are held in disfavor and considered"difficult." In the real world, though, this " difficult " spouse is hurt by the unilateral ripping out of their marriage from under them, thelifelong commitment they made and the foundation upon which they brought children into the world.
And when it comes to these children of divorce? They merely "manage." If they’re lucky. They navigate through the world with varying degrees of success. But all are changed. They’re not resilient. Children of divorce do not withstand the shock of divorce without permanent deformation or rupture. They do not recover from or adjust easily to the misfortune or change divorce produces in their lives. After their parents’ divorce, many are not able to become strong, healthy, or successful. They are not able to return to the life or children they once were after being pulled, stretched, pressed and bent through the machinery of divorce, new again as if nothing ever happened. We can only guess, and weep, at their potential had the trauma of divorce not occurred.
I know I wasn’t resilient. My wife’s parents divorced five times. She got a college degree and other achievements, yes. But she had left one marriage and was divorced with a child when we got married. And now she’s left me, even though we have two young children. I wouldn’t call her resilient either.
Anyone can spin our marriage as another fixer upper. To me, and more importantly to our daughters, though, it was our dream home.
And so as election season gets underway and politicians on both sides get fast and loose with the facts, one thing is for sure. It’s far too easy and not necessarily true to say kids are resilient, especially children of divorce.