I don't mind talking about my parents, but it doesn’t mean I’m an entertainment center if you’re curious or bored
Simchahs can be super special challenges. Yeah, we know it’s very “interesting” to see both families coming together, but please be understanding and don’t come to any part of a simchah unless you’re a hundred percent sure I want you there, and I’ll be happy you came! (When in doubt, maybe err on the side of caution, and wish me mazel tov the next day…). If you do come, please don’t go running to the mechitzah to stare at my father, and certainly don’t ask me to show and explain exactly who’s who in the family. It’s really uncomfortable when people start looking to see who looks sad or happy or awkward. You’d be surprised — even adults do this.
I don’t mind talking about my parents, but it doesn’t mean I’m an entertainment center if you’re curious or bored. Please understand that you’ve got to be close to me to ask personal questions! Imagine if we’re all sitting around schmoozing, and I asked you if your parents have a lot of disagreements — would you think that was appropriate? For some reason we become an address for questions, comments, and even other people’s divorce stories. Or, the opposite might happen: Someone will say the “D” word and then suddenly get all weirded out ’cuz I’m sitting there, and the other girls will give her nasty looks and kicks. You’re allowed to say the word divorce in front of me!
Please don’t pity us, but more importantly, please don’t start judging us! We are not our parents, and our parents are not us; our parents not living in the same home anymore doesn’t make us different than other teenagers, other than the fact that we were chosen for this challenge, while you were chosen for different challenges. Other people may be able to hide their challenges if they so choose but we don’t really get that option.
In a way, there is something different about us — something good. Like others who have gone through a major and drastic life change, it can make us more flexible to accept other challenging situations. We need to adapt on a constant basis, and we also often have to use diplomatic skills. Many of us become super sensitive to people’s feelings because of our own experiences.
For starters, divorce is not a disease, it’s not shameful, and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with us — or our parents! When someone’s parents divorce it doesn’t automatically mean that one of them is not okay or that something major “happened”; it simply means that they are like two puzzle pieces that don’t match. One piece is not better than the other, they just don’t fit together.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 814)
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