Dean contacted One Family because he wished to share his personal experience of when his parents separated. In the third and final part of a series, this is Dean’s story in his own words. He is now 16 years old.
So, where do we end up after years of arguments, confusion and ambiguity? There are only two real outcomes; one being the future continues on, with separated parents; and the other, continuing on with reconciled parents. In my case I am currently living with both of my parents, who have managed to work through their issues after one and a half years of separation.
I find it pertinent to emphasise that this is not always the case, and for some people it’s not the outcome we want. I stress to any child who has gone through the same experience as me, your life is not determined by the life of your parents. It would be foolish to allow something to constrict you to a certain path; we know not of the future, but we can for sure shape it. That shaping isn’t the job of your parents, they have done their part. It is up to you now, don’t let yourself crumble. Take advantage of your opportunities, if they don’t exist; create them. Learn from their mistakes and strive to be a better “you” every day. I have failed to find a better sense of satisfaction than that feeling you have when you see how far you have come. There will be those dark times in your life, and perhaps they will be in a greater quantity than your brightest times… But that’s the thing about your dark times, in the presence of your success they cannot be seen. That darkness only exemplifies your light, giving a support providing ‘frame’ to the beautiful painting of your triumph.
If there was one piece of advice I would give, I would say – though it seems scary and different and all you want is for things to go back to what they were – remember that how things were (or how they appeared to be) wasn’t what you thought it was. And when we realise that, and we accept that, that is when we can truly begin to rebuild.
I think I speak for most people when I say the last thing we want is for our parents to be unhappy with themselves. So if this becomes your reality, or is currently your reality, remember; it is not anything to do with you, as the child. Of course you might hear conversations between your parents mentioning you, or arguing about doing something for you. This is just going to happen, but in the vast majority it’s never really about you. You just become a proxy for them to air out their own feelings.
To the parents who feel so shrouded in doubt they are almost at the point of collapse: children are strong, and can be a lot stronger than you think. I understand as a parent you are filled with this sense of protection, this want to be a perfect example. But what is a perfect example? Is it better to act like nothing is wrong, stripping the child and yourself of any reality perception? Or is it better to show them people are flawed, a continuing work of art? Parents tell their children to come to them with any problems they have, but it doesn’t have to be a one-way street.
Above anything else, just be honest. I know there will be that voice in the back of your mind telling you that a certain piece of information is too hard for the child to handle, but one way or another it’s going to come out. You have the choice to control the situation, or to let it manifest into something so crippling that the future relationship you wished to have is nothing but turmoil.
Everyone has their own specific experience, and everyone has the right to their own life. Please, I do not ask for you to take everything I’ve said as gospel, all I wish is that people use my story as a reference, as thinking food. I don’t know everything, and I’m sure my views will change, as I do. If I can help just one person, even to the smallest extent, I would be happy knowing I’ve made a positive change.
There is nothing in this world more humbling than seeing someone exuberant, and above all, happy.
Note: Stock image used, istockphoto