Having Divorced Parents Makes You Tough: 33 Things Only Children of Divorce Understand

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 18: Actor Bruce Willis (L), actress Demi Moore and actor Ashton Kutcher with Demi and Bruce's kids Rumour (L), Scout (C) and Tallulah Belle attend the premiere of Columbia Pictures' film 'Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle' at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre June 18, 2003 in Hollywood, California. The film will be released nationwide June 27, 2003. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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I was only three years old when my parents got divorced. I can't remember anything from the time they were married, except for one screaming fight where my mom locked herself in the bathroom. I told my mom recently about that memory, and she assured me it was fabricated. They never fought in front of me, she says.

Likely story, guys. 

Still, growing up, I was pretty damn lucky. My parents mostly got along, split custody of me, and were even able to celebrate the occasional holiday together. Though their relationship has since deteriorated, the fact that they mostly got along when I was a kid — and stayed far enough away from each other to ensure it — helped make me the relatively well-adjusted, normal-range neurotic I am today.

I said it as a kid to many a pitying adult, and I'll say it again: I'm glad they got divorced, because it made my childhood happier than it would have been had they stayed together. Still, being a child of divorce is not without its challenges. If you're a product of one of the 50 percent of marriages that end in divorce, then you know what I'm talking about. There are some things only us we of the divided homes can truly understand. 

Don't worry, mom and dad, we love you no matter what. This isn't about something you did. (Oh wait, it kind of is...)

growing up, holidays like thanksgiving weren't so much celebrations as they were custody battles

maybe you alternated years

or maybe they fought over you each time

you learned to tune out certain things early on

like your parents' favorite digs:

'i'm not trying to say anything bad about your dad but...'

and 'what your mom doesn't understand is...'

and 'where did you learn [insert bad habit] from? did you pick that up from your dad?'

but usually, you didn't feel nearly as bad for yourself as other adults seemed to

though when you went over to a friend's house for a sleepover it was sometimes bittersweet

Everything was so ... normal

when parent-teacher conferences rolled around, you had different worries than most kids

Like how your parents would deal with sitting in the same room for an hour

the movie mrs. doubtfire meant a lot to you

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as did bye, bye love

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and later, gilmore girls

If only you and your mom got along like that and your dad was that handsome! Wait, uh...

but screw the parent trap for giving you false hope

You parents get back together AND you have a twin?!

two different houses meant two different sets of rules

very likely, you got to eat more junk food at your dad's house

but the argument 'but dad lets me...' got you nowhere fast

when your parents started dating other people, you had all kinds of mixed emotions

Having your mom or dad happy: pro. Having a virtual stranger in the house: con. 

if they remarried, you probably came to love your new stepparent 

The evil stepparent trope is mostly a myth. Chances are, they were even nicer to you than your actual parents. 

these days, you sometimes feel weird that you don't have two houses

and you may have a hard time staying in one place

or in one relationship, for that matter

when you visit home, it may as well be a hostage negotiation

because now it's your responsibility to make sure each parent doesn't feel slighted 

still, you can see now that your parents' divorce did make you wise beyond your years

because you're not as afraid of conflict

and don't put as much emphasis on the word 'forever'... 

...as you do on the word 'happy'

yes, as much pain as having divorced parents can still bring

you really are glad they didn't stick together for your sake

because we all know how that ends up

Fine —either way, you're probably going to need some therapy.


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