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Divorce

If You Grew Up With Divorced Parents, These Stories Will Resonate

“It was the best worst thing that ever happened to me.”

No matter what age you are when your parents divorce, it hurts ― plain and simple. Below, we gathered stories that speak to the experience of being a child of divorce, ranging from personal blog posts to expert articles to tweets.

There are fundamental truths most 5-year-olds understand about the world: The sky is blue. The grass is green. Your family consists of you, possibly siblings and your parents. But that truth is altered if your parents split up. I was in kindergarten when my parents got divorced. They worked hard to make my reality as normal as possible, but even at a young age I knew something was different about my family compared to my friends’ families.

The most vivid and painful memories many kids from divorced families have of early childhood aren’t of playground scuffles, skinned knees or getting in trouble. Instead, they relive scenes from their parents’ divorce. Kids of all ages — some barely aware of their own roles in the world — are acutely aware of events, situations and actions in families divided.

For those of us who grew up in a divorce household, the #GrowingUpWithDivorcedParents hashtag on Twitter hits close to home. Seriously, it’s nice to know you’re not the only one who has been told, “You’re acting just like your mom (or dad)!every single time there was an argument.

Divorce is one of toughest experiences a child can go through. But if parents are willing to work on it and put children and family first, there are usually some positive things to come out of the process.

It’s important to know that you’re not the only one feeling completely unsettled by your parents’ split — and you’re not the only one keeping your real feelings to yourself. Here are 14 confessions real kids made about their parents’ divorces on Whisper, a free mobile app that allows users to share secrets anonymously.

My parents divorced when I was two. I don’t have conscious memories of them together or of them breaking the news. I’m a little bit of both: I have my father’s eyes and my mother’s hands. I have her need for physical connection and laughter and his need for solitude and silence. I embody all of their beauty and their brokenness.

Parents going through divorce are constantly on the lookout for expert advice on how to raise healthy, resilient kids. But hey, the kids themselves just might have the best answers. Here, eight writers share what it was like growing up with divorced parents and the one piece of advice they want to pass on.

Children who’ve witnessed their parents’ marital problems and divorce sometimes replicate those behaviors in their own relationships. But they also tend to love smarter. They’re less likely to believe in “happily ever after” and know to keep their expectations about love reasonable. Below, kids of divorce open up about how their parents’ divorces have impacted their own love lives.

I was checking into the hotel when my sister called and told me that something was going on. I spent the next few hours trying to piece it together. Once I got in touch with my dad, he told me that he didn’t want to ruin my trip and that my sister shouldn’t have told me. I probably made 10 phone calls to my family members during those hours. Everyone, except for my parents, told me that this was just a fight and they would be back together and fine. No one could believe it.

Divorce made me a feminist. It woke me up to the disaster that is patriarchy which benefits no one and makes the whole family suffer. Mom grew mighty in the years after Dad was out of the house. She blasted Patti LaBelle’s ‘New Attitude’ and hosted uproarious ‘bitch parties’ with her sisters. She once whacked a man over the head with her menu in a restaurant for giving the pregnant waitress a hard time. I wasn’t keeping pace with her in terms of my own liberation, but I got there eventually.

Children of divorce understand early on what it meant to be a caregiver. Instead of being cared for and comforted by their parents, they’ve had to take care of their parents during painful times. We do the same for our partners when we’re adults. Whether we drop off a meal without being asked, send sweet messages before bedtime, or leave everything and come running when our partner needs help, we try to always show our loved ones how much we love them. Perhaps we also fear that our love will die if we don’t do these little things.

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