Turns out, I didn't need tissues. Go ahead, watch it now:
Am I the only one who thinks he looks a little like the youngest kid on Weeds? Shane Botwin? Amirite?
Okay. No way a child wrote that. Nope. Not unless there's a Doogie Howser of Divorced Kids out there. This was a script written by an adult with an agenda. Read by a kid in order to tweak emotions and to drive the point home. And that point?
Divorce is bad. If you get a divorce, your children are screwed. Children of divorce are doomed. Selfish people who get divorces are ruining their children's lives. And so on, and so forth. Got it?
A little bit of research led me to the maker of the video, Monica Epperson. Epperson is the co-founder of a non-profit called The Child of Divorce. The mission of this non-profit is "to give children of divorce a voice- and age is irrelevant". A little bit more research led me to discover that Epperson is, not surprisingly, a child of divorce herself. Her parents divorced before she was one, and her mother remarried, and divorced, 4 more times before she was 12.
She experienced 5 divorces. In an interview she spoke about the revolving door of men, of step-fathers in her life, and how she learned from a way, way too early age that eventually, everybody leaves. My heart goes out to her, however, I think I see where the agenda comes from.
Listen, I'm not going to argue with anyone about how bad divorce is for kids. Having gone through it as a kid, and watching my four children deal with it for the past several years, I know firsthand how crappy it is. No matter how great the ex-spouses get along, no matter how evenly divided the parenting times are, no matter how well-cared for the children are, it's going to suck.
And God help all of you if it's a messy divorce. Because "suck" doesn't even begin to describe that.
However, this video does nothing to help anyone. It's shaming those of us who have had to make the tough choice to divorce and it's giving fodder to those who think parents who divorce are selfish, awful people who don't give a shit about their kids.
Are there people like that? People who put themselves, their wants and needs before those of their children? Of course there are. Every divorce is different, but they all end the same: a once intact family is broken. Does that mean, as this video says, that parents who divorce are telling their children that "it is better to be right that to be loved?" Or that parents who divorce are "robbing their kids of their childhoods"? Or that when a parent decides there is no other option left but divorce, they are "not thinking of their children's futures"?
No, no, no. A thousand times no. Making the choice to pursue a divorce is not made lightly. You don't wake up one morning and say to yourself, "Gee...I have this extra $20,000 here and some spare afternoons. Say, why don't I get divorced!". There are always going to be those who do it and convince themselves that the children will bounce back, unscathed and absolutely tickled pink about having two houses and two Christmases and two Playstations. But the majority of parents who divorce do so with great trepidation and oh, oh...oh so much guilt.
In my case, I had no choice. My husband had moved out and into a home with his girlfriend. He refused to begin the proceedings, seemingly content to remain married on paper but apart in life. Calling a divorce attorney was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
But I had no other options.
Was I doing it to prove how right I was? Did I do it to rob my children of their childhoods? Did I sign the papers with nary a thought regarding my children's futures?
No. I did it in order to move on with my life. In order to keep life moving forward for myself, and more importantly, for my kids. I thought of my children's futures, and little else.
Most people in the throes of divorce are going to make some mistakes. Some big ones, some little ones. But mark my word, for people like me, people who fought for their marriages tooth and nail, who dragged their feet into that attorney's office...each mistake is like a tiny dagger in the heart. Things between the ex and I are quiet and civil now, but back when feelings were raw, self-doubt was rampant: "Did I just seal my daughter's fate as a spinster with daddy issues?" I'd ask myself if I slipped and said something derogatory about my ex. "Did one of my boys just become a misogynistic narcissist?" was the question du jour when it was revealed that their father had come up with a new, not-so-nice nickname for me at his house.
And what of those people who know, without a doubt, that their children would actually benefit from a divorce? What about the woman who is married to an abuser? Or the man struggling to keep his family together despite his wife's chronic substance abuse?
What about the couple who have tried, valiantly, to work on their marriage but both know it's not going to help? Are the children in these scenarios going to benefit from staying in a stressful, unhappy environment?
Or by making this choice, are these parents doing what Doogie says in the video: "At times you are risking my safety to fill a void in your heart."?
Thing is, those of us who worry about this kind of damage don't need anyone handing us more guilt. To quote Eddie Murphy in Trading Places, "There's plenty, you know."
And those parents who do go through the divorce process without considering their children's psyches and futures? They aren't watching videos like this. They aren't reading books about it, or consulting experts or even sitting at red lights, wondering, "Hey. My actions and choices may be harming my kids...should I check in with them and see if they're okay?"
This message is lost on them.
Like I said before, divorce isn't a fun thing. People don't torture themselves trying to decide if it's "divorce or DisneyWorld this year? Which one would the kids enjoy more?". But it is not the end of the world.
For some of us, it's the beginning of a new one. And pointing fingers isn't going to help us...or our kids.
INTERESTING TIDBIT: I was writing this on the porch, and my eldest child (20 years old) walked in. We were chatting a bit and I decided to bounce this post off him...you know, to get another "child of divorce" opinion.
He agreed with many points in the video, adding that as a child he would have preferred knowing nothing about the proceedings while the divorce was going down. He mentioned how awful it was having to go to school and listen while other kids talked about their moms and dads and families, while his world was being shaken up. Which gave me a lot to think about. And of course, some more guilt.