- November 29th, 2010
In my most recent Social Problems class, we were discussing chapters that mainly talked about divorce and abuse. My teacher asked us all to think about whether the American family is in decline, or if it is in general doing alright. When she first asked us to raise our hands to vote for which side we agreed with more, many students had trouble deciding. Unfortunately I had to catch a train home to visit my own family for thanksgiving so I didn’t get to see the list that was written up to explain how the family is doing alright, but the discussion made me think a little bit about family, and divorce.
Although my parents are still together, not a single one of my friends is in the same boat. My boyfriend’s parents are divorced. He is a product of his mother’s second marriage. She is now on her third, and his dad is still single. One of my best friends, Caitlin, lost her mother when she was little, but even before that, her parents had gotten a divorce, and her father was remarried. None of my other friends have parents who are together.
Some of the arguments for the decline of family include such things as, children of divorce are more prone to emotional problems, and the chapter we read stated something about how some children of divorce generally are better with adjustment and achievement compared to those whose parents are still together. Comparisons between children with different parental situations are hard for me to personally make because all of the children I was close too growing up, and all of the people I am friends with now, have divorced parents. And it is hard to say, anyway. Some of my friends have emotional problems, some of them are fine. Some of them are good at adjustment, and have achieved a lot, while some of them have not.
I do remember, when I was in kindergarten there was a point where they fought all the time and I would wake up to hear them yelling at each other. My mom kicked my dad out, and he was staying in a hotel. To me, it felt like he was gone forever and I was sure that they were going to get a divorce. I remember crying to my kindergarten teacher about it. Sure enough, they resolved their problems and have been doing fine ever since. It felt like he was gone for weeks but in reality, I think my father was only gone for a day or two.
Like, I’m not even sure how my parents staying together has effected me, or how I would be if they had gotten divorced when I was little. I do have emotional problems, depression and anxiety. The statistic in the book about adjustment I think is right for me, though. It’s hard for me to adjust to things. Moving to Boston has been the hardest event of my life, even though it’s only 3 hours away from home. But maybe the fact that my parents are still together, means that I have a stronger and more stable support system. I know I have both of them at home and they are on my side. And I know this is not the case for some of my friends.
The woman that Caitlin’s father married after her mother died, is certainly not there to support Caitlin. Caitlin was my neighbor, and growing up, Paula, her step mother, was horrible to her. She was never friendly, and would always lie to Caitlin’s father about her. Whenever Caitlin tried to talk to her dad about Paula, he wouldn’t listen. There was an incident where the stepmother hit her, but Caitlin’s dad didn’t believe her, even though I was there for that. Now Caitlin lives with her boyfriend and has no contact with her father or stepmother.
With divorce also comes the issues of fighting and/or absence of a parent… My good friend Matt’s parents got divorced when he was little. He grew up living with his mom, and very rarely saw his dad, as his dad spent a lot of time in Maine, and had a drinking problem. Matt only recently started seeing his dad more often in the past couple years. Matt has a brother two years older than him, but he still sometimes talks about how he wishes his father was around more growing up. Matt’s parents do not really get along with each other, and it seems like kind of an unhealthy situation. To me, anyway. Sometimes me and Matthew will go to visit his pops a few towns over. His dad is usually a bit drunk, and will talk badly about Matt’s mother, right in front of him!
I mean, don’t get me wrong. “Children of divorce” can still grow up to be perfectly fine, and children with married parents don’t always turn out to be angels. Marriage and divorce doesn’t fully determine the way a person will end up, but it can have an influence. Sometimes divorce is the best option, whether it’s due to abuse of any kind, not being able to put differences aside and stop fighting, falling out of love, etc. Sometimes it’s the best and most healthy move.
To be honest, the idea of marriage in general scares me. I can’t imagine being totally comfortable with someone, because I’m not even comfortable with myself. I also can’t fathom the idea of being with the same person for ever and not getting sick of them. And heaven knows if I was in Bryan's situation... I'm surprised he's not sick of me already, and it's only been 7 months. I’m still not even sure I agree with marriage, because it sometimes seems to damn relationships. The most ideal scenario to me, is finding someone I’m head over heels in love with and being in a committed relationship, but not getting married just so that if anything did happen we wouldn’t have to deal with getting a divorce. I may even be dating the love of my life right now. But who knows. I am still young, with a lot of time to think, experience, and make decisions.