There are plenty of articles and small (or big) talk about all of the negative impacts of divorce on children. Even though I am in an amicable situation, it affects my child and has been a big adjustment. No one would doubt the negatives of divorce for any family or individual. However, I do think that there are positives that people often overlook when they're busy talking about how bad divorce can be. In every "bad" situation, there are gains to be had. We all know of the many losses in divorce, and I feel people should work at their marriages rather than just blindly give up, but the fact is there are a few positive things kids gain from divorce.
Kids learn to be flexible or at least learn the importance of flexibility. More often than not, children don't have a say in their custodial schedules, homes, and new stepparents and partners. Children of divorce learn early on that it's crucial to adjust to new situations and sometimes, go with the flow if you can't do anything else. Life will throw you curveballs constantly, and when a person is rigid, he or she will struggle more trying to adapt. A child that learns the art of when and how to be flexible is a child that will be a confident and happily socialized adult who is ready for the real world.
Unfortunately, not all divorced parents are divorced from sane and kind individuals. With that said, though, many of us are dealing with sane coparents. For the fortunate children in this situation, these kids learn how two people manage to cooperate despite differences. Parents of divorce are often negotiating, learning how to approach the coparent (or when not to), sharing the workload, picking the right battles, and managing two homes. The little ones of divorce learn not only how pivotal cooperation is out in the real world, but they also learn how to utilize these important skills.
Sometimes People Disappoint Us
What about if a child has a "deadbeat parent?" It's not a "sunshine and kittens" situation obviously, but kids learn that sometimes even adults or people you're supposed to trust can let you down and shouldn't always be trusted, that people are flawed, and that we should appreciate the people who are there for us instead of mourning the ones who are not. It's a sad lesson that no child should learn, period, but it's not a bad one to have in your tool belt as a person, since every single one of us will be let down by someone we love at some point in time. It does become problematic if a child grows up viewing all romantic partnerships as failures or has issues trusting adults and authority.
How to Find Happiness
If two married people are so miserable that they can't make it work and they decide to part on good terms in order to live happy authentic lives, children of divorce learn an immeasurably good life lesson. Happiness isn't something that happens to you — you choose it. And when things aren't so peachy, you can find a way to make things better for yourself, because you value your sanity and quality of life. Kids see that their parents decided to turn things upside down (which stinks) but for the main goal of achieving happiness and peace for both themselves and their kids. Too many people sit around in negative situations out of learned helplessness or perhaps poor choices and situations. When a kid sees two adults decide to make a life that's full of joy rather than misery, it's empowering later on down the line. It shows kids that you don't have to stay indebted to your unhappiness. There are options and choices!
Some people exit marriage comfortably, but many of us do not. This is one of the hardest parts of divorce — the financial downfall. For me, it is scary to know that I will be evicted from my house right as the school year ends. Suddenly, we will be somewhere new (who knows where yet!) and getting adjusted to a whole life outside of this past year adjusting to being a divorced family. Kids of divorce often have parents working many jobs, as well as cutting down on extras like activities, vacations, and other nonnecessities. It teaches children the art of a dollar and what's really important. And no, it's not toys and trips to Disneyland. It's putting a roof over your head and surrounding yourself with people you love and living a genuine life you want. The art of hard work and tough choices is one that your children will absorb simply by living it. Don't be surprised if your child/children of divorce end up being hard workers and appreciative of what they work for later on.
There Isn't Always a Happy Ending
I struggle with this one. I wish for my daughter that her family could have had the fairy-tale ending, but is it all woe and grief? No. She learns that sometimes things do not work out, and that's not always a bad thing! Not everything is meant to be forever, and sometimes we choose people or things for our lives that we should not have chosen to begin with. Stuff happens, and we don't always ride off into the sunset, but that doesn't mean that our lives are set to fade to black at that moment of grief. An ending means a new beginning is coming, and perhaps this new beginning will bring you back to where you were supposed to be in the first place.
Divorce doesn't have to be a killer. It's not moonbeams and rainbows initially, but maybe you need to hurt a little in order to grow as a person and find that happiness you're looking for. A better life waits ahead. Go and get it!