Thursday, 19 September 2013

On Having Divorced Parents As An Adult

My parents divorced when I was eleven. I actually can't really remember having two parents in the same house- or rather, the memories I do have are of less-than-positive things, even though I had a pretty happy childhood. It's weird isn't it, how the negatives tend to stay with us more than the positives?

Having divorced parents didn't really seem like a huge deal when I was little. I had a couple of friends whose parents had split when they were much younger than I was, and it was just what it was. We always lived with Mum, and saw Papatron once or twice a week (as far as his work allowed, he travelled a lot when we were small), and whenever anyone asked what it was like, I tended to reply with some flippant comment about two Christmases and two birthday cakes.

Now I'm older, I'm much more independent as far as seeing Dad is concerned- of course, when we were little, Mum helped us arrange seeing him, but once we left school it was kind of just down to us. So now while I see him far less than I probably did when I was in school, I kind of feel like I get more quality time with him now? Whether it's hanging out in the kitchen while he makes a roast lunch, or driving up to Wales to see my Grampy, it seems like we can talk about more grown up things now, and I certainly feel closer to him than I did when I was small.

As we're getting older though, there are situations where my parents, who have now been divorced for twelve years, have to be in the same place at the same time. Fortunately, they're able to deal with this pretty easily- yesterday was my little brother's university graduation, and there was never any question of them both being there, which is so great. I spent two hours yesterday squished between my mum and dad, proudly watching E collect his certificate, and feeling five years old  in the best possible way. And it was the same with my graduation, and my older brother's, and my Nanna's funeral, and I'm sure in the future it'll happen with weddings and christenings und so weiter- they'll man up and go and support us.

However, they aren't that great it, and this has led to some ridiculous situations- like yesterday, my brothers and I ended up going out for both lunch and supper because Dad thought going out for lunch all together might be awkward. I mean, what!? And I'm terrified about one of them ending up alone, more so now than ever before, as we grow up and move onwards and upwards. Every Christmas I think of the year that will surely come when my brothers and I all have partners, and what will happen to Mum- the thought of her (or anyone, for that matter) spending Christmas alone breaks my heart every time I think about it, and I've promised myself that it will never ever happen.

And it's stressful in other ways. Any big news or event or just thing-that-happened-to-me-at work-today has to be told over and over- which I'm sure happens to people with married parents, but surely then they tell each other? Sometimes I wish mine would. This way, I end up forgetting to tell one/ the other about important things on a fairly regularly basis.

I don't really know how I feel about having divorced parents as an adult, to be honest. I think it's way more complicated than as a child, when there's always someone else who can kind of deal with all of the complicated stuff. Now, I have to be that adult. I have to man up and make things work for everyone. I mean- it isn't all bad. I got my brilliant sister Little L out of this whole situation. But I'm no longer convinced that the whole two Christmases/ birthday cakes thing is enough to make it easy any more.

I have no idea how it's going to progress from here. Hopefully, it'll be smooth sailing and things will carry on much as they are now. But I think being an adult with divorced parents is in a lot of ways far more difficult than I ever expected it to be.


  1. I don't talk about my parents divorce on my blog, as my Dad reads it and I know it would break his heart. There were reasons to their divorce other than just drifting apart. Human vices that take a very strong person (my mum) to deal with. They divorced when I was about 9. Dad got a new job in Norfolk and that was mum's ticket out. We stayed in Wales. That day Dad drove away from the house and we waved him goodbye is ingrained in my mind forever. Living so far away we didn't see him very often, but he phoned every weekend. Still does, not that I manage to speak to him every weekend now I'm an adult.

    My dad re-married and mum is now on her own. She's had partners, but is very happy by herself. I don't like the thought of her being on her own at Xmas either. But it's happened, for various reasons.

    At the moment it's okay, but weddings will be interesting. Sixtieth birthdays already has been interesting and I worry about grand children. What will my children call my dad's wife? I don't want them calling her Granny, because to me she's dad's wife. Certainly not my stepmother. And my dad already has grand kids, in a way, although not biological. So will my children be as special to him?

    I agree with you, divorce is tough as a kid, but you get over it. You have two Xmas's, two birthday, probably showered with more love than before. But it is definitely tricky as an adult. Stressful actually. Lots of feelings of guilt, and my parents are perfectly okay in a room together, as long as my Dad's wife isn't around :S

    Wow, that's turned into a proper ramble. Thank you, I couldn't have posted this on my own blog.

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx

  2. My parents divorced when I was 6 and I'm exactly the same as you - I only really remember the bad parts when they were together, which I find so strange. I've found it difficult the past few years to see my dad often because, as you said, when you get your own life you no longer have the routine of seeing him every week.

    My dad has a girlfriend but my mum hasn't yet had a relationship since they divorced, she's been too busy with me! I worry that when I go to university (fingers crossed!) that she won't have anyone, I really hope that at that time she finds someone so that she's not alone so much.

    Having divorced parents is definitely not a piece of cake, but it's nice to see that other people feel a similar way and go through similar experiences, this was a wonderful post Alice xxx

  3. my parents split when i was six, and much the same as you, it never really seemed to bother me. they had an awful awful break up, and literally did not speak a word to each other until i graduated from cardiff - even then i found myself wanting to die when i saw that my mum and stepdad were only sitting two rows behind my dad and stepmum. luckily it all went well and my dad even forced a photo together with me, my mum and dad, but i had to have two meals too! i worry about weddings and stuff in the future, but i'll just be grateful if they stay civil! i'd never really thought about the new challenges you face as an adult with parents that are split, but now you've written it i definitely agree. x

  4. This is a really interesting post and the comments too! My Dad wasn't with my Mum when I was born so I have always been a complete Mummy's girl. My Mum married when I was 7 after a long term relationship but unfortunately it broke down only a year later. I remember being absolutely gutted at the time and crying about it so much - my little family had all of a sudden been broken up. My Mum married again when I was around 11/12 and I'm pleased to say that this man is amazing! He's very much a Dad to me. In fact, I count myself lucky that I actually have contact with my Dad and both my Step Dad's. It's far from the most ideal situation, but everyone is happy and that is what matters most!! I think the thing that scares me most is what will happen when I eventually get married. I'm pretty set on the fact that it'll be my Mum that walks me down the aisle, but it'll be crazy to have everyone there together...!! Thanks for such an open and thought provoking post, Alice!! :) xx

  5. I can completely relate to this, my parents divorced when I was 11 too and I lived with my mum for a year before living with my dad, which I have done for 10 years now. I have my graduation in November and just had a massive fuss over the photo situation. It can be stressful at times trying to keep both sides happy.

    Lauren | Bits and Bobs xx

  6. Don't stress yourself too much with the implications of that setup. These things happen, and it can only be one way or the other. Though it's good that they have at least arrived to join in the events on which you've built the stages of your life.

    Ken Phillips Law

  7. Children are usually the most affected when their parents get divorced. It’s heartbreaking, because they’re helpless and confused with the situation. So your emotions about your parent’s setup since you were a child up to now are understandable. But I always believe that everything has its proper time. Just continue to reach out to them whenever you can. Stay strong!

    Gregg Jackson @ Sherrill & Cameron, PLLC


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