Plenty of us are craving just one thing of permanence
This is tough for me, as a divorced father of two girls. Since this is public and I use my handle in a number of spaces, I’ll just say that we got divorced for reasons that were worse than “We were bored of each other” (literally something a friend told me about her divorce once) but way less bad than any kind of abuse.
But once that decision was made, we tried to do everything right. We had 50-50 custody. We hammered out the divorce agreement in a single day with the mediator. Child support was never a problem. We worked together on every issue. We didn’t badmouth the other person. We sat together at the kids’ sports games. My youngest likes to tell the story of texting her sister , on a day when she was switching houses, saying, “I hate that our parents get along so well. I’m cold and want to go home and they’re still talking to each other. Why can’t they hate each other like other divorcees?” (Joking, obviously)
But even with all that... it sure didn’t help their psyches, particularly our eldest. In some ways, this was how difficult it is to keep a consistent message to your children (notably, when sexuality raised its head as it does with the pubescent) when you aren’t in the same house and can’t put together a unified front; you don’t know what the other is saying, and so a consistent message gets garbled. But even worse, and hardest on them both, was having the bedrock of their lives taken away from them. We were a pretty stable family, and to lose that sense of support and permanence really messed them up and left scars that never fully healed.
They’re both doing pretty well, all things considered, and that’s partly because of the work we put into keeping the divorce amicable, partly because of their innate temperament and resilience, and (tbh) partly because they’re moderately privileged and it seems like the hit to socioeconomic status is responsible for a lot of the harms associated with divorce. But yeah. I can see the harm it did. It’s hard.
Yes, I read Matt's shocking statisticsthe other day too. "As Matt points out, trying to talk about traditional family structures today will have you pilloried as right-wing, regressive, even reactionary." Therein lies the problem. Young people are so removed of the possibility of marriage with few role models for a traditional, healthy, archetype of a relationship. In their eyes, the negatives outweigh the positives; i.e. marriage as slavery, domestic servitude, giving up their freedom. It is incredibly sad.
I still remember my Grandparents, other members of my extended family, even family friends and neighbours having stable, happy, healthy marriages. They were having a lot of fun and joyful times.
Commitment seems to be the idea young people are afraid of. The hook-up culture is testament to this. Short-term gratification and sex as a commodity, made too easily accessible via 'dating' apps. Of course, nobody uses dating apps for 'dating' - it isn't a tool to find a life-long partner. I suppose my views too, would be considered right-wing...
Thanks for writing about this. Not only do we not talk about it, but we also celebrate the child sacrifice that it is with euphemisms of bravery, self-love, and living your best life. Parenting experts/blogs/books bend to not offend nearly 50% of their audience by further normalizing separation.
I don't know what the solution is (the no-fault divorce debate is complicated and nuanced), but placing the best interest of kids ahead of all else and discussing the undeniable harms seems like an important step. I have seen several families/kids devastated by separations that seem imprudent and unnecessary, primarily driven by the selfish desires of parents and encouraged by a culture that insists it’s no big deal. Reconciliation and therapy are hard work - no-fault divorce is an easy escape hatch that drastically lowers our marital satisfaction threshold.
Wow Freya, to use a British word, you are absolutely smashing it, another great one.
It's unclear to me how much family breakdown really is a causal factor for what you're describing rather than a consequence itself of a precarious disposition.
We've seen, for example, that low performing parents 'make' low performing rather than 'raise' them. Robert Plomin makes the case pretty clear in his book "Blueprint".
Still, I get the point of the article and I share your sentiment. It's pretty ridiculous that we point to the most trivial things as proximate causes of trauma while ignoring or even glamourizing one of the most obvious.
Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful post, Freya.
The statistic that 46% of children, by the age of 14, do not live with both mother & father in the same home may be misleading. The divorce rate is not 46% (nor the much claimed 50% either).
Remember that today, many couples NEVER marry and NEVER live in the same household. The percent of children raised by single moms is staggering (in the US): 72% of black kids, 65% of hispanic kids, 42% of white kids. You cannot lose what you never had.
Add to that kids raised by grandparents (a HUGE factor in poor communities)... ergo, not living with EITHER parent... and situations where one parent is deceased, on drugs, mentally ill, homeless or otherwise entirely unfit & unable to parent... and the real chance that the child is simply in a divorce situation drops to maybe 25%.
I am not pro divorce, mind you (as a former victim of an unwanted "NO FAULT" divorce) and lived the reality first hand of children trapped in such a situation. However, I will say that kids raised by miserable, fighting parents who DO NOT divorce... but scream at one another, throw things, drink, use drugs, are abusive...are probably NOT better off than the children of people who quietly & amicably divorce.
Some of the unhappiest adults I know (Boomers & GenX) came from entirely intact families with long married parents... who fought or were abusive... especially alcoholism, which is still very common... so it is not a simple formula of MARRIAGE GOOD...DIVORCE BAD.
People don’t like to talk about it because their divorced friends will feel awful admitting they have really hurt their children. One of the worst things about divorce is when parents date new people. I remember a David Sedaris essay where he and his sister hear Dr Laura tell a single mother not to date and his sister said “what a bitch!” Well when I was a divorced 23 year old with a young son some of the behavior I am so ashamed of was related to having strange men around. You can’t care about your kids the way you should and pay attention to a new relationship too. So I agree with mean old dr Laura.
You have given not just me, but anyone who read your original post, a ton of info about your anger, bitterness, divorce, even the number and gender of your children. That is YOU. That is not ME.
You do not have to say you are part of the RedPill movement, because you literally state every word you type directly out of their "manuals" and videos.
This is not opinion. This is fact. Also some of it is just good plain common sense from someone who is older, smarter and more experienced than you are.
Nope, I am telling you the truth. You just cannot handle the truth.
You prefer the RedPill excuses for your own failings, because it feels good to claim "the courts were stacked against me! they are all FEMINISTS!" instead of accepting responsibility for your own actions.
I am happy to let any readers parse your original post, and determine if I was off-base in any way. I stand on what I have said here.
After divorce, most women and children end up more resource-deprived (money, time, energy etc.). This has a number of serious negative health impacts. But the family courts and other systems turn a blind eye. Sad.
Nope, I did not blame my divorce or my ex for all the ills of all the families in the world, or claim all MEN are just like my ex husband... did I? or misrepresent the court system, or claim it was all stacked against me... did I?
YOU are the one projecting! YOU are the one blaming everyone and everything BUT YOURSELF for your failed marriage... and marinating in your bitterness long after it was over.
I don't need help; I got over my divorce and have a happy, wonderful life with a new spouse... YOU need to do the grief work to get over YOUR divorce, and stop blaming others, and take responsibility for your own life... and for dear gods sake, get out of the RedPill movement. It will destroy your chances at happiness in the future.
You basically did this to yourself, with your RedPill remarks which are easily identifiable as RedPillers say the exact same stuff, in exactly the same words... like an army of trained robots. Believe me, I engage RedPillers online all the time. You need to do the WORK to deal with your own anger and grief. I am just pointing out the obvious to you. I do not have to project, sir: you have that projector set up in PUBLIC and the film ON and everyone can see it.
You clearly didn't read 99% of my post, which had nothing to do with YOU PERSONALLY. You certainly have no more insight into this issue of divorce and children than anyone else.... you are one person out of tens of MILLIONS of people. However, if you go online and post bitter rants about "TEH EVIL WIMMIN OUT TO GET YOU"... I have an equal right to respond. You want to marinate in misery and bitterness? Your choice. It won't lead to happiness.
The outcomes for girls in family breakdown were very interesting in the documentary "Take care of Maya". Illustrating the destructive levels of state sanctioned interference in the family which are now at epidemic proportions. The destruction of the family at the hands of the feminist captured social services and family courts are at a point where surely there are studies should be available if the subject matter wasn't so politically inconvenient. However a fractured and fearful public is malleable to very morally questionable acts of governance. So children who grow up distracted from the influences that made them like that are less likely to question the very agencies who were involved in their family breakdown. I am watching closely the Maya court case this month. The outcome of which will have repercussions in the family court across the west.
This sort of article represents my worst fear. I fought off divorce for years until doing so two years ago when my daughter was 11, now 13. I was deathly afraid of her having to endure the awful element of her parents breaking up, of two houses. Etc. Her mom and I have diametrically different beliefs on parenting and so there has always been tension. So far despite all that my daughter seems to be fairing well, in school, with friends, activities. But I always worry it’s being kept to herself, what she isn’t telling me. It will continue to be the focus of my life as she navigates middle school and high school, of course college. Being a teenage girl is tough enough, doing so in two houses is that much harder.