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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Family Weekend: Should your parents’ relationships affect your own?

    Parents are people too, but some of us have to go to college before we fully come to terms with that concept.

    When I was about 10 years old my parents divorced. While it was hardly a surprise, I didn’t expect it to have such long-term repercussions on my life that continue to affect me today. Google can unearth thousands of statistics pointing to the fact that children of divorced parents, or “broken families” as the more conservative call them, struggle when it comes to building relationships of their own as they grow older. One such statistic from the 1980s, released in a study by the Harvard University Press, found that children who experience divorce in their families, especially multiple divorces, earn lower grades and were rated by their peers as “less pleasant to be around.”

    I can’t speak too candidly about my supposed unpleasantness as an adolescent, but I’m taking a cue from Vice President Joe Biden and calling malarkey. Divorce is a complicated issue, and perhaps I’m in the minority for harboring resentment about something that happened a decade ago, but most people I’ve talked to that went through a divorce in their family feel similarly.

    Our parents’ mistakes do not become us, but if those mistakes lead to mutual happiness, then how bad can they be? My dad started dating soon after my parents separated, went through his bachelor phase (round two or three, I should say) and got remarried my freshman year of college. Mulling over the word “stepmom” still doesn’t always come naturally, but if anything it taught me that, for better or for worse, there’s someone out there for every stage of life you’ll go through. They’re happy together and I gained a new member of my family.

    Moving on is a strange concept, and some take longer to do it than others. Ultimately, I’m thankful for that, because in the years between the divorce and my brother and I moving out, my mom made us her absolute priority. Dating wasn’t a necessity in her life at the time, and maybe she felt she had to see the results of her first marriage — her children — through before even considering someone new. I might have missed out on helping my mom get ready for a date, and I’m sure my brother feels the loss of not having the “respect my mother’s honor” talk with some middle-aged stranger in our driveway, but I respect her enormously for putting that part of her life on hold to show both of us how much we meant to her.

    Whether we like it or not, we all bring some form of baggage from our parents’ relationships into our own. We can’t always pinpoint the moments when they seem to be making decisions for us, instead of us making them for ourselves. I’ve made choices in the past that they may not have been proud of, and I can say the same for them, because there’s kind of a thrill in finding yourself on the same playing field in adulthood. But they played the hand they were dealt and taught me to look carefully at my own cards before I jumped into the game too hastily.

    Regardless of whether your parents are here this weekend together, apart or not at all, appreciate them for the simple fact that they put you on this Earth, giving you the ability to make anyone else your own. And no matter how awkward a double date is with your mom and dad, that’s worthy of a toast.

    Have a great Family Weekend, Wildcats, and make sure you let them know how to Bear Down.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Kate @katenewton18.

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