How My Divorce Made Me a Better Mom

Love & Learn 15

I stayed married for a looooong time past the point where I wanted to call it quits. I had a lot of reasons, but they all pretty much boiled down to the fact that all marriages are hard, my religion said I wasn’t supposed to, and my kids. My kids, man! I didn’t want my kids to grow up in a broken home, because, you know, that like totally screws kids up.

Ok, I’m making light of it, but I did feel that way, and I know a lot of you do too. Yes, I’ve read the studies and know that, statistically speaking, kids do better growing up with both a mother and a father present in the home. I also know that one out of every five people on the planet are Chinese, so statistically speaking, if I have five children, one will randomly be Chinese. 

Or maybe every situation is unique and can’t be judged by the status quo.

I’m here to tell you -- my kids are so much happier now than they’ve been the last several years. I know it doesn’t make any sense on paper (on screen?), but these kids are thriving in a way they never did when all four of us were living under one roof.

And I’m so grateful for that, because I took a chance and a leap of faith when I filed for divorce and moved out. I’d had an epiphany one day, and the thought stayed with me until I’d made the decision to leave. I had wanted to stay married so that my kids wouldn’t be “screwed up,” but my marriage was DOA, and all of a sudden I knew they’d be screwed up anyway being raised in that environment. It was a rock and a hard place, but I finally decided that I could at least be the best mom I could be; that wasn’t going to happen while I was focusing all my energy and attention on keeping up pretenses.

That's when I put a bunch of money in their therapy jar.

Of course all kids would prefer to grow up in an intact home with a loving mommy and daddy. Duh. But I’ve spent a lot of time talking to adult children of divorced parents, reading personal stories from friends and random strangers on the Internet, dealing with my own experiences, and sometimes that just isn’t an option.

Take this whole divorce thing. I roll my eyes anytime someone insinuates that I’m taking the “easy way out.” There is nothing easy about this, people. Divorce for me, and I’m guessing for the majority of people, is the lesser terrible option when you realize that you’re in a very bad situation.

I would rather still be married. I know my ex would too. But he and I had very different ideas about what we wanted out of our relationship, our family life, our religion, and heck, even just life in general. And the fact of the matter is that we were making each other miserable, and our kids were suffering the consequences.

My 10-year-old daughter said something astonishing to me this morning:

Mom, why do people say divorce is always bad? Our lives are better now.

To be fair, I will mention that not everything has been peachy keen as the dust has been settling. Emotions are still raw all around, and she and her sister have cried a time or two or 27 over the fact that their parents aren’t together anymore.  

But she’s right. Things are better. We’re both better parents now that all of our energies aren’t spent dealing with each other, with nothing left over for them.

Of course divorce isn’t an ideal option for kids ... but sometimes it’s the best option.

Do you think divorce can ever be better for kids than staying married no matter what?


Image via Jenny Erikson

divorce, single moms, child custody, exes, family


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nonmember avatar blh

I think your kids will be fine as long as their father is still very much apart of their lives. I think most kids get screwed up from divorce when one parent just abandons them.

nonmember avatar NoWay

Yes! I got divorced when my kids were under two years old. It was a terribe and hostile environment and I did not want to raise my kids in that situation.

chigi... chigirl1228

I think it depends on how you and your ex handle the situation with your children. My husband comes from a "broken home" (god I hate that saying). His father was in and out of his life and would rarely send money and his mom is still bitter about it 25 yrs later. Which led to commitment issues that I have to deal with lol. I think my MIL could have stoppes pointing the finger and blaming her ex for the reasons they grew up poor and just put her big girl pants on and moved the hell on. It led to a lot of hard feelings and my husband and his siblings are still confused and hurt about it left feeling like they were never important. My rambling point being... just shut your trap about and negative feelings towards their father. Don't point fingers or place blame bc all it leads to is a life full of hurt feelings and kids left feeling like its their fault or something. My ex and I worked extremely hard on putting our personal feelings about each other aside and work together coparenting our daughter. She is now 5 the brightest in her class and most well adjusted and independent girl. And alot of it contributes towards me and my ex just being honest. That the best thing that came from our relationship was her and that means it was never a mistake or somethingwe regret ever.

Jaghd810 Jaghd810

A lot of people will say to not badmouth your ex in front of your kids.  And they are so right.  But if it happens, don't beat yourself up.  And don't let other people tear you down.  No one is perfect.  Just remind yourself to put yourself in your child's shoes.  Every time you say something bad about the other parent in front of them, look and see the pain and hurt in their face.  Never put them in the middle.  Yes, it is hard to keep that mentality 100% of the time.  But apologizing to your children can do a world of wonder.  

Would my son like his father and I to still be together? Yes. Does he ask us to do things with him, just the 3 of us?  Yes, because we love him.  But even at his young age, he can tell the tense atmosphere is gone.  And he is much happier.

nonmember avatar Melissa

A-FREAKING-MEN, Jenny!!! I am 150% a better mother BECAUSE I am a single divorced mother!!! Thank YOU! (Also, "statistically speaking, if I have five children, one will randomly be Chinese"...warn a sister that she shouldn't be drinking while reading!)

mom_o... mom_of_2_2012

I'd like you to reread this quote from your piece:

"I roll my eyes anytime someone insinuates that I’m taking the “easy way out.” There is nothing easy about this, people. Divorce for me, and I’m guessing for the majority of people, is the lesser terrible option when you realize that you’re in a very bad situation."

Now substitute "abortion" for "divorce" in that statement.  As someone who had an abortion when faced with an unplanned (while married and on birth control) pregnancy, I can tell you that this is *exactly* how I felt.  Just like you, I was faced with a situation I never thought I'd be in.  We had a young child already, and were struggling to make ends meet.  It would have been impossible to adequately care for another child at that point so, like you, I made the best choice for my family.

I know you will not respond, as you never seem to reply to comments, and I'm not sure whether you will even read this.  But if you do, please remember the next time you bash the pro-choice movement that my abortion, like your divorce, was the responsible choice that allowed me to be the best mother I could be to the child I already had.

nonmember avatar Ashton

mom_of_2_2012 the problem with you trying to justify your abortion is that there is something very wrong with taking one of your children's lives to spare the others. And the one glaring flaw with your argument is this.. There is a choice you could have made that would have given ALL of your babies a better life and that is adoption. All children have a right to life are your rights should end when your choices end the life of another human or any living thing for that matter. Choosing death for an innocent child is not anything worth defending. I have no clue why you would even bring that up unless it's something that haunts you. Which it should. I have struggled for 7 years to become a mother and I have lost 3 babies in the process. I know move than anyone else how precious and valuable every single life is. I know there are tons of couple out there like my husband and I that would have loved the child you aborted in a way you could never imagine. So don't you even act like there wasn't a better choice because I know for a fact there was. Life is always better than death.

jenni... jenniferpcrum

life is full of hard choices, glad you made the right one for yourself and your family.

I also am divorced, and after 5years things are better for my children. it is a long hard lonely road. It feels good that my girls are in a better place


nonmember avatar SingleMama

I come from a broken home also. I remember going to a therapy group for it. I remember other kids talking about how they wished their parents were together and they were angry. And I remember thinking "Why the hell would you want them back together?!" I love both my parents with all my heart but my dad was abusive and the scariest person I've ever met. I remember him beating my mom's head into the fridge til blood was running down her face, I remember him throwing her over a car, I remember him putting a gun to her head........ and this was all before I ever started school. We left before then. So yes, there are reasons for divorce, and for obvious reasons my parents were much better parents apart than they ever were together. But that being said it is horribly painful for children to deal with their family falling apart. It's just gruesome. So if there's any way to stay together, please do so. But if not, statistically kids do better with both parents, but only if the relationship is right. If it's violent statistically they do better after divorce. And my ex got locked up. So when my kids ask where he is no matter what's going on I tell them daddy made mistakes and he's in grown up time out. No matter what happens daddy loves you. It keeps them feeling whole. He's a part of them, if I say something awful about him, I say something awful about them. Please don't do that to children. Thanks for reading my rant.

Jessica Denver

In particular, children are far better off after parents get divorced if it is because of domestic violence or abuse. Growing up in an emotionally  toxic home takes a toll that can take a lifetime to heal from. Heart breaking as it is, i have had to take extensive legal measures  to ensure my child will not ever have to be in contact with her father. He himself had been terribly abused as a child and grew up to be violently abusive himself.  I fled with our daughter and go to safety when she was 6 weeks old.

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