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Things Children of Divorce Experience

24 Things Anyone With Divorced Parents Will Understand

If your parents divorced when you were a kid but had split custody, then you've undoubtedly experienced plenty of things that "normal" kids just didn't get. Whether it was friends asking you "Why didn't they just work it out?" or classmates cluelessly demanding a sleepover RSVP right away, there are some experiences that only kids from split households truly understand . . . and they're what made you who you are today. So if you rocked the two-house life and have amazing parents whose relationship simply didn't pan out long-term, then you'll relate to these 24 things:

  1. Figuring out holidays was always a disaster, but at least you got two of everything. (Double birthdays are the best!)
  2. You're an expert at planning ahead, because you've done it your whole life. ("OK . . . I'll be at Dad's next Tuesday, so I need to call him now and let him know about band practice until 4:30 p.m., but then I need to bring my science project to class on Wednesday morning, so I need to bring that to Dad's from Mom's when we switch houses on Monday." No sweat.)
  3. "Traditional" parenting roles mean nothing to you — your dad knew how to match hair bows to polka-dotted tights, and your mom practiced throwing footballs with your little brother before tryouts.
  4. Your teenage rebellious phase happened early, and it hit hard.
  5. You know that the "evil step-parent" trope is completely untrue and that The Parent Trap is totally unrealistic — you learned to love realistic movies about divorced families, like Mrs. Doubtfire.
  6. Bad habits were always blamed on the "other" parent.
  7. You're naturally a good listener — your parents went through a lot, and while they didn't dump everything on you, sometimes they needed someone to talk to.
  8. There was bag that traveled between the houses with you, and it contained everything you needed: asthma inhalers, report cards, field trip permission slips, cell phone chargers, and (naturally) the latest Harry Potter book.
  9. Before you could RSVP to birthday parties, sleepovers, and beach trips, you had to call and get permission from both parents. You might have lied about the other parent's answer once or twice, but it always came back to bite you.
  10. Meeting your parent's new boyfriend or girlfriend was always awkward, even if they ended up becoming an amazing new addition to your family.
  11. You could get away with certain things — doughnuts for breakfast and staying up late — at one house, but it wouldn't fly at the other.
  12. Making friends with neighbors was always hard, because they never knew when you'd be home.
  13. You've seen both parents cry, and it's OK.
  14. Telling major stories was always an endeavor, because you've have to relay everything twice.
  15. Along the same lines, you'd sometimes get disciplined for the same crime twice. (Get a detention at school? Well, now you're going to be grounded at two different houses.)
  16. Once you get a step-family or two, celebrations (like birthdays, graduation, etc.) get insanely huge. There's no such thing as a "small" party.
  17. Visiting home as an adult can get pretty awkward, because you have to make time for both parents separately . . . or explain to one why you're not spending any time with them this time around.
  18. You're guilty of using the divorce as an excuse for forgotten homework, bad behavior, and more. Who's going to call you out on it?
  19. Tuning out insults is second nature — you've heard plenty of snide remarks from family members about the "other" parent, even when they don't realize they're doing it.
  20. "Adaptable" is basically your middle name. New experiences don't frighten you, because you learned to easily transition and roll with the punches long ago!
  21. You know that a failed relationship isn't the end of the world and that ending things can work out for the best — but even so, you're also extra careful when falling in love and err on the side of caution when it comes to commitment.
  22. Therapy isn't taboo for you, and you recommend it to everyone you know — but people tend to treat you like their counselor, since you're so sensitive and understanding.
  23. Your parents might get competitive sometimes, but you learned long ago that it all comes from a place of love.
  24. You love each of your parents wholly and completely — even though you only get half the time with them. You've learned to make your time together worthwhile!
Image Source: Everett Collection
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