Student Contest Winner: “Divorce Op-Ed”

First step: get married. Second step: have kids. Third step: smile, laugh and take pictures of your children’s first, second and third birthday. Fourth step: fight constantly. Have financial issues, cheat, abuse alcohol or cause some type of emotional, mental or physical harm to your spouse. Fifth step: sit your kids down and say, “We are getting divorced.”

In North America alone, 50 percent of couples will follow these steps. An estimated 40 percent of children will grow up without a father. Approximately every 36 seconds, parents will sit their kids down and deliver the fifth step. While these statistics are not the happiest to read, why is it that getting a divorce has such a negative reputation? Look around at the world we live in and you can find much worse situations. We have an entire world of people that hate each other, a country that is more separated than united. Yet, we deem those people, who have the ability to recognize a negative situation and get out of it as broken. Divorce does not mean broken and those that participate in the act of divorce are not weak. To finish off the recipe for divorce, the sixth and final step is to fight. Fight for a better life for your kids and yourself. Ending a marriage should not represent failure; it is the recognition that life should not be this horrendous, and there is something better. Do not be confused by the popular opinion that divorce is synonymous with being broken; in fact, it is quite the opposite.

There are many arguments that say divorce shows a lack of effort and should be the last option. Individuals claim that it is a burden on families and children, and it causes financial damage. I question why divorce is such a burden. Sure, if the couple never fights and everything seemed like a fairytale, then the sudden need for separation would come as a shock. Unless people are truly magnificent at faking their way through their lives, though this is not the case. If it is, there is an entirely different set of issues taking place.

The decision to end a marriage is most commonly the result of a long period of relentless fighting and pain. The burden on families comes from two people being together who shouldn’t be, not their separation.

Secondly, the children will be alright. An environment filled with negativity is not a happy on. Kids will not be O.K. watching a failed relationship every single day of their adolescence. So, you say that children need two positive role-models to look up to in their lives? They will not get that if the two parents stay together and hate each other. As much as the two parents try to deny their hatred for one another, the kids know; they always know. Don’t give kids an example of what they have to look forward to if it is only filled with abuse, neglect, hate or resent. If two people made the decision to have kids, they must be smart and strong enough to do what is best for them. Give them something real to look up to, something that takes strength and courage. Because divorce is a sign of strength; turning your life around for the better is not easy, and takes belief in one’s self. If parents can show that they believe in themselves enough to continue their journey alone, the kids will see that and believe too.

Financial burdens should not keep people together either. Getting a divorce may be expensive but living a life of misery costs much more. Doing more damage by trying to force something because of money is not a good way to live.

The act of getting a divorce does not break a family and it does not destroy children. The need for a divorce without getting one, however, does put children in jeopardy. Forcing a relationship that causes pain to one’s self and others is not called strength. The next time your friend or cousin or brother or sister gets a divorce, do not look at them as if they are broken. They have the strength to be able to recognize what is best for them and their children. They are taking action in a bad situation and everyone should look up to that.

Whoever is reading this, if one day you try the recipe for divorce, do not be scared, but make sure to not forget the sixth step; fight. Fight for a better life and do not let a negative reputation stop you from creating that better life. Fight and fight and never stop fighting to turn a negative situation into a positive one. As long as you are fighting for happiness, you are fighting to live.

Cameron Baggs
Student writer from Professor Celia Feramisco’s Persuasive Communications Campaign class