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Today's word on

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Those were the days:

"The way I had it is all gone now. The bars are
gone, the drinkers, gone. There remain the smartest, healthiest newspeople in the history of the business. And they are so boring that they kill the business right in front of you."

--Jimmy Breslin, newspaper columnist, 1996 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jim Doyle)


Scars of divorce on children never go away

By Whitney Russler

January 19, 2005 | I turn on the television and I see reality show after reality show that plays fun at one of the most important and sacred bond between two people: marriage. There's this notion that if the marriage doesn't work out, the couple can just get a divorce. Parents with children seem to forget the consequences their relationship is going to have on their children.

I was only three going on four when my parents got a divorce. I remember crying, crying all around me, or was it inside of me? I just remember mom not being there and dad telling me that we would see her soon once she got settled in. Confusion streamed into the eyes of a four year old. I grew up going to divorce class and was separated from my peers. None of my friends' parents were divorced. I went to divorce class with three other kids my age and I quickly had an instant connection with them. We came from broken families.

Luckily both my parents wanted to have my sister and I live with them so we had to travel back and forth every other day, and then every other week. My life was carried in a bag. I had stuff at both houses. I had to remember everything I needed for the following week. I grew up fast.

My dad quickly remarried which made the situation worse. I had a stepmother who treated my sister and I like Cinderella, except there was no fairy tale prince. She screamed at us and told us how horrible we were. My dad was never home when it happened and she always made up a lie that made us sound like we did something wrong to deserve it.

Most of the time he didn't believe her, but it always put him in a tough situation. We wanted to leave his house but didn't want to hurt his feelings. Eventually we couldn't take it any more after eleven years and we told my dad we had enough.

I wrote a poem about my step-mom that I would like to share:


You yelled at me from hello; I was too little to know The pain you would later cause. A prisoner in your house Should I ring the doorbell? Should I knock? Cupboard doors slamming, You mutter under your breath, Stomp up and down the stairs. We attempted to run away almost everyday To escape the yelling. Stepping on your toes Always afraid. Did I dry out the sink? Did I push in my chair? Did I clean the shower? Reasons, all reasons Enough for you to shout We had no names to you You brand us "the girls" Sick to my stomach Why do I have to stay here? Confused by no love I lie awake at night Afraid of what tomorrow brings My room is my hide out Yet you still find me here Years after the split, I try to forgive you The child inside still hurts Dad is left with guilt, Blames himself You're closed in the secret book,

Second marriages and stepfamilies can be extremely hard on children. Suddenly they have a new family and new parents and it can just complicate the situation even more. In my case it was a terrible experience. Eventually we moved to my mom's and my dad soon after divorced my stepmother. This was the second divorce I have gone through. There were mixed feelings through this divorce considering I was happy she wasn't going to be in our lives any longer, but she had a son that I grew to love and treat as my real brother. I would no longer be with him. My older sister was headed for college and I would be left at home.

When I lived at dad's house I would cook, clean, and do laundry. It was a big change for me. Again, I had to grow up fast. Research says divorce is a very stressful situation for a family, but if there are children involved, the damages can be tenfold. Grief, guilt, sadness, anger and isolation are all feeling a child may experience. Some children will be more likely to feel they need to become the replacement for the other parent. They may take responsibility for the younger siblings if there are any. ( I felt all these feelings and I still do today.Even though I went to divorce class as a child, and I've lived with divorce ever since I can remember, I still have these feelings.

Each year, over 1 million American children suffer the divorce of their parents; moreover, half the children born this year to parents who are married will see their parents divorce before they turn eighteen. ( Divorce is becoming more common among the American people today. I seem to meet more and more younger children who come from divorced families. My sister is a school teacher and she said about half of her class has divorced parents. When I was in elementary school I was one of the only ones in my class with divorced parents. As time goes on it keeps getting worse. What has happened to marriages?

I am twenty-two years old and only three years ago did I come to truly know why my parents got a divorce. They didn't communicate. My dad was out doing wilderness courses when my sister and I were born and he wasn't home very much. My mom wanted him to be home more, wanted him to help her. She came from a line of divorces and wasn't sure what to do. She jumped into divorce. She didn't know any better. I know she regrets it. She is a huge advocate of relationship counseling. I think she wishes her and my dad would've gone to get help.

Either way it's all said and done. I've learned a lot about relationships. Through these experiences I know how important marriage is and how it's not something to be taken lightly. I know it's tough, but there's always help. My prayer is that people don't jump into divorce too fast, and seek counseling if needed, because if they don't they are affecting their children in a huge way. I hope someday to break a vicious cycle that has been in my family for way too long.



Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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