When Demi Moore started talking recently about being proud of her divorce, it gave me pause. It’s not that I’m not glad she was able to have a good relationship with her ex or that they were able to be there together for their kids. I am. It is just that that is not the norm for most divorcing couples and children.
In my opinion, when people like Demi Moore say these things, it glamorizes divorce and gives hope to many people that divorce may not be all that bad for kids or parents. Don’t get me wrong, I am the very person who would tell you that divorce does not ruin children or divorcees. I can tell you from experience, that it is not the worst thing in the world. Still, hope is not a strategy that anyone should lean on when getting a divorce.
In our society, it often feels like people do one or the other with divorce. They either vilify people and children who are part of divorce. Or they normalize it and glamorize it. Everyone gets divorced so it must be okay. We actually have Demi Moore proclaiming she is “proud” of her divorce.
Some say “Don’t divorce. It’s bad. It will ruin your children.”
The vilifying part is pretty easy to understand. I understand it. Divorce is difficult for children, and it is often hard for adults. We are told divorce is bad and that it will ruin us and our children. So couples stay married. When I speak about single parents and stepfamilies, I add my own stories to all the data about divorce statistics.
Stories that speak to the single parents and stepfamilies who go on after a period of transition to live happy and healthy lives with happy and healthy families. Children in divorced homes who make good grades, are great role models, grow up to have great relationships with both parents, and are able to marry successfully. Single-parent families who are able to give their kids everything they need. Stepfamilies who are able to model happy marriages and families.
Others work too hard to glamorize it
I find that I feel the need to respond when I see other people try to normalize or glamorize divorce. Yes, many people breakup and divorce. Many people go on to remarry or live with a significant other. It happens often in our society. BUT it is still hard. And it definitely does not feel “normal.” It doesn’t feel “normal” when you split up your summer or give up Thanksgiving or Christmas every other year. It doesn’t feel “normal” when your kids have more than one Mom or Dad in their lives. It doesn’t feel “normal” when kids are trying to individuate as teenagers and have not two but four parents and stepparents to contend with, even if they like/love all of them.
The glamorizing part, the “I’m proud of my divorce” stuff, makes me a little crazy. I know that it is somewhat about making lemonade out of lemons, but it also gives people the idea that it will be like that for them too. In my personal and professional experience, that is not reality for most people. Most people do not get to experience what Demi Moore does, even when they want to and even when they work hard to.
Divorce, like marriage, is hard
Many people that I know (including myself) really wanted to have a close relationship with their ex and were willing to do many things to co-parent together, and it didn’t work out well. Because no matter how much someone wants that to happen, it takes more than just one person to want that. It takes BOTH co-parents AND any new stepparents who come into their lives. That is a lot of people who have to be willing to co-exist together harmoniously.
The chances of the co-parenting relationship lining up just right, and the kids all being okay within the divorce, and the co-parents marrying or being with people who were all in step too is, quite frankly, pretty unusual and darn lucky. So, Demi Moore can be proud. And I’m happy for her. But she and her ex were right to be concerned and scared and worried about it. She kind of laughs it off and that is what scares me.
The very best advice I can offer you, and the advice I tell all the couples I work with, is that divorce will not be easy. It will be tough. It may even be really, really hard. And if you are okay with that, then you will be more prepared than most people.