At the tender age of nine months, my shot at the picture perfect childhood was ripped apart. Divorce rocked my family and gone were my chances of Christmas mornings, movie nights or dinners with my parents side by side. It would have been easy to use this setback as an excuse for any unhappiness life threw my way, but I have chosen to see this bump in the road for what is truly has been: a blessing in disguise. I am now 28, and the lessons I learned from my parents’ divorce during my formative years have been invaluable and ones that I hope more kids choose to see instead of just focusing on the pain.
1) Life isn’t perfect.
Being exchanged at 11:00 PM in a parking lot from one parent to another, having to choose which house to stay at and watching new spouses file in and out quickly smudged my idea of a perfect life, and I am grateful for it. Life isn’t perfect; nothing ever is. It’s a mistake for parents even to plant this idea in the head’s of their children because it just sets kids up for disappointment.
My parents taught me that life is a beautiful mess. There will be moments that have more beauty and happiness than we can fit into words or our hearts. There will also be moments that will leave us face down on the floor wondering how we will ever get up again. Children of divorce have learned how to take the good with the bad and make the best out of it regardless.
2) There is beauty is walking away.
It’s pretty safe to say that most people want love and do not go into marriage thinking about divorce; however, life will not always go as planned. People change. Happiness fades. You know what? That’s okay. There are enough unknown pitfalls in life that we don’t have to keep falling into ones we make ourselves.
There comes a point when walking away is the most beautiful thing we can do for ourselves and our family. From watching my family, I learned it doesn’t mean we are failures. It means we value the happiness of everyone more than honoring a piece of paper. I always wanted to see my parents content because that in turn did the same for me. If that meant living separate lives, so be it. It taught me that some fights can’t be won, and that I can choose my happiness over just getting though. What a gift.
3) We won’t always get along with everyone, but we can always be respectful.
The last major lesson I learned from my parents came from the many games, ceremonies, concerts and parties that were held for my brother and me with both of them in attendance. No matter how they felt about each other, my brother and I saw my parents’ kindness for one another and support for us. It would have been easy to bring up past issues or to create tension, but that didn’t happen.
What I learned was there are times in life where we have to put our feelings at bay when it’s for the best of others, especially children. We are never going to get along with everyone we meet, but that doesn’t give us permission to be rude or insensitive, and that was something I saw play out over and over with my parents. Respect should always be given.
Maybe my picture perfect life was smudged. I will never have memories of a Christmas or vacation with my parents and brother all together, but I am okay. What I have in place of those memories are values and lessons that have made me the person I am today. Divorce isn’t a curse. It hurts and requires time to heal, but it in no way holds anyone involved back from living the most beautiful life possible.
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