Why I'm Thankful My Parents Divorced When I Was Young

I can’t remember much about my parent’s relationship. After all, they divorced when I was only four. But I do remember their anger, their yelling, their name-calling. 

I remember hiding in my room, counting to 100 over and over again – my new talent – wishing it would end.

I remember trying to make them happier by being more well-behaved.

I remember my mom dragging us across a vast parking lot late at night somewhere in the city, holding my little brother like a rag doll, desperate to get somewhere I don’t recall. It had rained, and I kept splashing through puddles, getting my shoes wet and muddy water up my legs. And only thinking, “I’m going to make them mad at each other again.”

It was only a matter of time before my dad moved out. No goodbyes that I can remember. He would show up occasionally after that in a cloud of cologne with small gifts for us, but he was gone after a short, terse conversation with my mom.

Again, no goodbyes. 

My dad was a shadow figure in my life, so I was ambivalent about his hasty departure. The only thing I knew was it was now quiet. No more fighting. No more crackling intensity in the air. Peaceful, at last.

I know my experience of my parent’s divorce was unique to me. I didn’t feel the loss that most kids feel when they lose the safety of two parents. I never felt that safety. But I am grateful for the gifts their divorce gave me as a young child – and the adult she became.

I no longer had to live with that conflict

When kids live in the middle of prolonged family conflict, it can have a huge impact on their mental and emotional health. Studies say they often feel anxious and depressed and can live in a chronic state of fight or flight. Without understanding what normal and healthy relationships look like, they sometimes bring the same behaviors into their own adult relationships.

By divorcing when I was younger, my parents inadvertently minimized my exposure to their hostility toward each other, so I didn’t continue to take on feelings of responsibility for it or normalize it. As a result, I no longer waited for the other shoe to drop, and I stopped being afraid of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I could go about being a kid again. 

I was more adaptable to change

Young kids possess a remarkable ability to adapt, and this was put to the test when my parents divorced.

We moved to a new place closer to other family members. There were new routines and a new school. Although my father would drop in at a whim, I remember thinking of him as a visitor. My new life now revolved around nearby family members who loved me and new friends around the neighborhood and at school. While it was difficult in the beginning, the changes were exciting. I’ve carried that resilience and flexibility with me throughout my life. 

Happier parent, happier kids

Young kids are perceptive, and even though I didn’t know the particulars of my parents’ conflicts, I lived in the soup of their tension. 

With my father’s absence, my mother was no longer a stressed-out ticking time bomb. Granted, she wasn’t the epitome of happiness initially, but she developed a “get on with it” attitude and created a new life for herself. As she became a happier person, she became a happier parent and began to be more present and engaged. She remarried and had two more children, and today, we all have a remarkable bond.  

Quality relationships with others

When I no longer felt like I had to field family turmoil in my perfect little-kid way, I was able to have quality relationships with my remaining parent and other family members. I felt more accepted and loved for who I was. I was no longer responsible for my parents’ happiness. I could say my little kid things at all the wrong moments and not feel like it was the end of the world. 

I got more attention and spent more time with my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins, people who didn’t get along with my father and would never have become such a big part of my life had my parents stayed together. 

Other benefits of divorcing sooner rather than later

Watching my mom move on and establish a good relationship after my father made me appreciate what a healthy relationship looked like. It taught me valuable lessons about love, respect, and partnership that have gone on to inform my own marriage today. 

Although we hear so much about the negative consequences of divorce on kids, we rarely acknowledge the positives. Unfortunately, kids who live through years of their parents’ marital conflict come away with many burdens of their own. Divorce is not easy for anyone, but I believe my parents’ early decision helped offset many of its negative impacts on me. It allowed me to escape their chronic unhappiness, to witness healthier, happier relationships, and to understand that sometimes, divorce can be the best decision for everyone involved. 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.