Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Healthy Living

I'm sure you're well versed with the divorce rate in America and hear the snip-its of percentages of how many marriages end in divorce. I won't throw any new statistics your way. What I am interested in is the children that are left to deal with their parents inability to make their union successful.

My son, who is now ten, is one such child. His father and I were divorced when he was five years old. For reasons I won't dramatize the dad and I just couldn't get along after eight years of marriage and had severely different ideals as to what constituted respect for one another. Once the decision was made as to how to move forward we agreed that we both wanted to pursue joint custody. I have never had any desire to remove my child's father from his life, no matter how I might disagree with his spousal abilities, because he's always been a great father.

I was also a child of divorce, as so many politically correct publications and professionals label this type of person. My parents divorced when I was seven and behaved horribly towards each other....tons of name-calling, taking extra effort to hurt each other as much as possible for several years after the divorce, all in plain sight of me and whomever else might be in the general area. My father was especially vindictive...he went so far as to place an ad in our local paper (and it was a very small town) noting, "Must sell houseboat to pay for ex-wife's Lincoln). Thanks, Dad. Now all my friends' parents know exactly what's going on. This action did actually suit his reputation, so I guess it was par for the course. No wonder my mother couldn't get away fast enough.

These little details were talked about from time to time during my adulthood, so my son's father knew well what I went through, and that I never wanted to put my child through that same misery. Believe me, there have been many moments when his dad has behaved badly, and I am guilty of the same, just not as often of course. We acknowledge the low level of humanity we are both capable of exhibiting, but we work hard at getting along for our son's benefit.

Every day I read blogs about happy and healthy family living. Husbands and wives who have numerous children, a strong faith in God, and a devout passion for each other. I am so moved by them and admire their virtue and their strength. I hope that what they write about is true and factual, and they are as wonderful parents as they make themselves out to be because I enjoy learning from them along with many other readers.

I don't feel that I am a bad parent for having joint custody of my son. I actually feel that I am a damn good mother, despite the fact that my son comes from a once broken home. He's now from two homes, both in tact in their own respective ways. My marriage to Hubby is a truly blessed one, and I feel that our relationship serves as a positive example to our son of what a married couple can and should be like. Don't get me wrong, Hubby and I have an occasional disagreement, but we work through it diplomatically or agree to disagree and move on. If anything we over-communicate in our marriage. When something is on our minds we talk about it...sometimes beating the dead horse, but we feel this is totally necessary to keep our relationship healthy.

My point today is this....there are many divorced couples who chose to behave badly every day toward each other. So much so that they refuse to communicate with each other even over their child's education. I have been told by teachers every year that they have to send two sets of papers home with some of their students because the parents refuse to communicate with each other or can't get along. Some teachers have divulged in greater detail to what extent the disagreements between parents are that they have to deal with.

I always wonder when I hear these stories if those parents ever stop to think about how their actions affect their child. I know how it made me feel when I was a kid....like I was always torn between two relationships, that I was two-faced for listening to my dad bash my mom and feeling the need to listen sympathetically, then having my mom turn around and do the same thing. I never felt like a loyal child...that I had to show support to who I was with.

I commend couples for making marriages work (in a healthy fashion) especially if there are children involved. I do think it's too easy to get married in our society. It would be great if adults didn't get married until they were mature and knew who they really were. But, that's not the way the cookie crumbles. We all change as we go through life and develop different ideals. Some for the better, some... not so much.

But, also, I commend parents who chose to get along after divorce for the sake of their children regardless of if they truly despise each other or not. (Note: I'm not talking about abusive parents...those who physically/verbally beat up their spouses or children or harm them in any way.) Let the child form their own opinions about the other parent as they grow up. They will learn who their parents are and if they share the same values or not. Typically children love their parents warts and all, and just want to be loved back. I hope that the kids are allowed to do just that...just love, be loved, and get through life, which is hard enough even in the best of households.

And, for those of you lucky enough to be married to the same person for decades, raising your children together with the best of ideals, please keep in mind that there are those of us who provide a healthy life for children in other situations, too. There just may be more houses involved.