Whenever I meet new people, the topic always comes up. We talk about friends, family and siblings. I talk about my two half-brothers, who I love dearly, and the questioning eyes look at me. “Oh yeah, my parents are divorced.” Immediately, the questioning eyes change into sad eyes. They tell me they’re sorry for me, that they didn’t know and will not bring it up again. Of course, this is not always the case. Some people do have a nice reaction to it. But overall, there is still a big stigma around divorcing.
Being a child of divorced parents can be sad indeed. You have to travel between two homes, you have to be the communication channel between the parents and you lead two totally different lifestyles. For example, I always found it difficult to go to my dad’s place. Every other weekend, I had to leave my mom alone to spend the weekend with my dad. There were different rules, different food and different people. It was hard adjusting every time.
But, I am actually happy that my parents are not together anymore. Don’t get me wrong: there were times where I wished they were still together: when my friends talk about their families, or when we talked about our families in school. But in the end, it is better this way. My parents are both happier than when they were together, and that makes me happy. The older I get, the more they get along as well. I also have a stepmother whom I love and care for, two beautiful little half-brothers and a step-family who treats me as I am their own family.
I have learned to live with this situation. Why can’t other people do this? Why is there still a stigma around divorcing? In Belgium, 21.300 couples got divorced in 2020. If there are so many people getting divorced, why do we still treat this as a taboo? Me, as a child from divorced parents, have accepted that this is the way their life is. It’s not like in the movies, that the parents get back together in the end. Parents just split up, find an arrangement for the children and try to make it work. As it already is hard enough for the parents, why put an extra feeling of guilt or shame over them? “These poor children, what will the parents do?” is a question that often comes back. But it’s not society’s job to judge. It’s between the parents and the children, and whoever is involved in this situation. Divorce is already something really hard for a family. Why should society make this more difficult with their judgement?
I hope there is a change on the horizon: that divorced families are also seen as normal. That the topic of divorcing can be open for debate and can be talked about without shame. If children from a divorce can do this, why not the rest of the world?