There’s a new comedy in select theatres called A.C.O.D., which stands for Adult Children of Divorce. The plot centers on a man named Carter (played by Adam Scott) who has – unbeknownst to himself – been part of a study about the effects of divorce on children. There have been hundreds of such real-life studies now, and countless more surveys on the subject, I’m sure. One of them was taken recently by the website Our Time, a dating website for (mostly divorced) Boomers. According to the 1,822 singles who were asked about the experience of divorcing and the effect it had on their now adult children, 53% of respondents say their children are not impacted by the divorce today, and 15% said their divorce actually had a positive impact on their children’s lives.
I asked fellow 30-somethings with divorced parents if they felt their parents’ split had a positive impact on their lives, and one friend told me:
Everything got so much better after my parents split when I was 13. My relationship with both parents improved dramatically. They were happier. My siblings and I were happier. Plus, double Christmas. As a mom myself, one of the things I’ve learned is that your kids aren’t gonna be happy if you’re not happy.
That friend is happily married with no signs that divorce is headed her way, so I guess you could count her as part of the 53% of kids of divorced parents who have a positive outlook on love, which was another finding of Our Time’s survey. She also falls in line with the 58% of children who get along with both parents after their divorce.
Another friend – who is also happily married with kids – feels the same way about her parents’ divorce. She says her parents are “SOOOO MUCH HAPPIER.” She also noted that “they are better apart than they were together (at least toward the end).” Her parents are able to share their kids’ birthdays and spend holidays together – even Christmas. “Only now mom sleeps in a guest room,” she joked.
A woman I know who is a divorced Boomer told me that divorcing her sons’ father was the hardest but best decision she’s ever made. She sent me a quote that she’s kept in her wallet for the 20+ years since she left her husband: “Everybody believes divorce breaks up families. This is not so. The broken family is not the result of divorce; divorce is the result of the broken family.” That’s by Paul W. Alexander, a distinguished judge who served in the Toledo, Ohio family and juvenile court system. After the quote, she added, “My sons were so much better off out of the situation in which we were living.”
And there’s good news for Boomers here, too: 37% of their children said they were happy their parents were dating after divorce. Only 2.5% of adult children reacted negatively to their divorced parents moving on romantically.
Movie poster via firstshowing.net