One of my favorite things about hanging out with my step kids is listening to their unique take on life. From Listening to the 11-year old’s opinion on the presidential candidates, to some really awesome conversations with the teenage girls about what they are imagining for their future, I always walk away having learned something from seeing through their eyes.
Recently I was listening to the kids all talk to each other about their friend groups at school. Maddie (14) made a comment about being in the “kids of divorced parents” group. I asked her what that meant. She explained to me that meant that she was part of a group of kids at her school who could relate to all the emotional and logistical complications of having parents who were no longer together. Kids with “intact” families just didn’t get it.
Granted, it has been a while since I was in middle school myself, I found myself surprised that this new “clique” of students had developed. With divorce and separation rates what they are, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised.
In Maine, we are lucky to have many resources available to help families, and more specifically children, through the trauma of a split. Kids First is one of these options, and because so many children are going through the program, it makes sense that some of them would find a connection there. After all, most friendships that begin at that age come from a mutual interest or experience.
Okay, so here are some hard numbers: according to a survey of adult children of divorce conducted by The National Opinion Research Council that ran for over 20 years, they found that in 1973, adult children of divorce were 172% more likely to end their marriage than that of people who grew up with parents that stayed together. However, in 1999, only 50% of adult children of divorce ended up divorcing in their own marriages.
On the surface, this looks like good news for traditional marriage. But we also know that marriage rates in general are dropping. So are people moving towards choosing to give up the traditional relationship of marriage altogether? It looks that way. The same study found that the adult marriage rate is 26% lower in people who grew up with divorced families than people who didn’t.
So the next question I have is… Is this a bad thing? Is quality of life directly related to whether or not you end up married? I don’t know. Maybe these statistics are just giving us a clearer idea of how our society is evolving in the way of relationships. What I hope for my step children is that they make a life full of love, happiness and purpose – whatever that ends up looking like.