Divorce is the last thing a parent wants to put their child through. Everyone always hears of couples who admit they probably would have split long before if they didn’t have children together. Many parents try to make their relationship work simply because there are kids in the picture, not because they think their marriage will actually be happy or healthy. Still, there are many families who can’t help but avoid divorce, no matter how hard it is on everyone.
Most children of divorced parents will tell you that they resented their parents being apart. Whether it made celebrating the holidays more difficult or just caused even more tension between their parents, divorce comes with its own set of difficulties and challenges. These 20 people get real about what it was like growing up with divorced parents. From kids who say their parents gave them false hope that they’d get back together to those who say they actually prefer their parents being separated, you might be surprised by these answers.
If one thing is for sure, divorce has a different impact on different families. Some of these people say that it helped improve their family dynamic and made their parents happier, while others say it drove a wedge in their family. Make sure to let us know what responses surprised you the most in the comments!
20 Where’s The Child Support?
Olivia* has a lot of resentment towards her dad for financially abandoning his children after he divorced their mom.
“We were pretty well off when my parents were together. But for some reason, my dad went deadbeat when they split up.
He didn’t contribute financially at all, even though my mom was eligible for child support. She had to go out and get a job after more than a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. We struggled with money for years before us kids were all old enough to get our own part-time jobs and contribute.
I’ll never forgive my dad for abandoning us like that, even if they were divorced.”
19 The Family He Always Wanted
Trinity* admits that she was jealous of her dad’s new wife and kids following his divorce from her mom because it made her feel like that was his real family, while she was just a ‘mistake.’
“My dad got married less than a year after he divorced my mom, and they ended up having three kids together. The older I got and the more kids he had with his new wife, the less I saw my dad.
It started to make me feel like this was the family he always wanted, and me and my mom were just mistakes that he got rid of when he signed the divorce papers.”
18 The Chaotic Case For Custody
Adalynn* admits she wishes her parents had handled their custody dispute differently, so it didn’t have such a negative impact on her and her brother.
“Both my parents wanted custody of me and my brother when they split up. The custody case was so messy that it actually lasted four years. My mom and dad were making horrible allegations against each other.
They asked both of us to lie before the court. We even stayed with our grandparents for a little under a year because living at home was so stressful.
The whole custody thing almost broke me.”
17 The Part-Time Papa
Kasey* admits she feels like her dad acts like a part-time parent ever since her parents got divorced. She says he acts more like an Uncle than a real father, which has got to sting.
“Because my parents are divorced, sometimes I feel like my dad is more like an uncle than a real father.
He rarely comes around and my mom is able to make all the big decisions on her own. When he does show up, he always brings elaborate gifts to ‘make up’ for things, but then never financially helps when we really need money.
He’s pretty much a part-time dad now.”
16 How Can Someone Be So Resentful?
Lola* says witnessing her parents divorce has made her against marriage. She admits that she could never imagine loathing someone as much as her parents do towards each other.
“Being raised by divorced parents has made me so against marriage in general
When my parents split, they’d always tell us kids what the other one did wrong. My mom still goes on about how lazy my dad is and his wandering eye, whereas he says she probably still nags and he’s glad he got out when he did. I’ve never seen two people hate each other so much.”
15 I Didn’t Want To Choose
Avery* admits she still disagrees with her parents allowing her and her sister to decide who they wanted to live with post-divorce. She says that was too much pressure to put on two young kids.
“My parents thought it would be better if they let us decide where to live (I was 12 and my sister was 10). But that put way too much responsibility on two kids.
We didn’t want to make either of our parents unhappy.
When I told my mom we didn’t know who to choose, she thought it was because we secretly wanted to live with dad and were scared to tell her. After that, she basically left us no choice but to move in with him.”
14 Time To Pack Up
Rhonda* says the worst thing about her parents' divorce is that it meant she and her siblings had to move away with their mom due to her job.
“I would have been fine with our parents splitting up if it didn’t mean we had to move away. My mom had to re-enter the job force after the divorce, and the only job she could get was a 6-hour drive away.
She took us kids and made the move, without asking how we’d like to live so far away from our dad. It ruined our relationship with him since we’d only see him once a month if we were lucky after that.”
13 I Was The Punching Bag
Kaylee* says she wishes her mom hadn’t been so emotionally dependent on her when she was divorcing her father since it put her in an awkward position.
“One thing I wish that was different about my parent’s divorce is that my mom didn’t rely on me so much emotionally.
I was 17 by the time they split, and for some reason, she thought it’d be okay to tell me everything that was going on, like including what my dad did that made my mom file and the guys she’d been rebounding with.
I feel like I lost the innocence about my family when everything went down.”
12 Pawns On A Checker Board
Ashlyn* says she feels like her parents used her and her sisters to hurt each other, even after their divorce was finalized.
“I honestly feel like my parents used me and my sisters against each other when they were getting divorced. They didn’t treat us like their kids. They treated us like pawns that could be used to hurt the other person.
Like one Christmas, my mom made a huge stink about taking us girls away with her then-boyfriend because he was spending the holiday aboard. But I swear she did it just because she knew my dad was planning a huge celebration with his extended family from out of town and would be extra hurt.”
11 Shower Me In Gifts
Makenna* says her parents tried to make up for their divorce by showering her in gifts, something she doesn’t seem to mind.
“I guess I’d definitely rather my parents still be together than not, but I didn’t see things that way growing up. I was really little when they got divorced, and all I remember is getting so many gifts from both of my parents when things were going down.
Even afterwards, they always compensated during the holidays for not celebrating it together by getting me tons and tons of lavish gifts. It helped make me feel like I wasn’t missing out on anything or that nothing was out of the usual.”
10 Still Holding Out Hope
Bianca* says that her parents didn’t make their divorce easy since they kept giving their kids false hope that they might be getting back together.
“My mom and dad continued to ‘date’ even when they got divorced. I remember him picking my mom up for dinner and driving her somewhere special, while we stayed home with a babysitter.
I wish they never did that because it always gave us hope that our parents were getting back together. But in the end, something would always make them fight and start avoiding each other again. It would’ve been easier if they were just adamant that things were over between them.”
9 My Father’s Deepest Secrets
Laura* says that it wasn’t any easier learning of her father’s indiscretions later in life. It only helped her understand more where her mother was coming from.
“I didn’t really know the real reason my parents separated until I was a grown-up. And I’m glad I didn’t because it really would’ve messed me up.
I spent years being mad at my mom because I couldn’t understand why she left my dad (he tried so hard to get back together with her, too). But finally, when I learned all of his secrets, I could understand why she couldn’t stay with him any longer.
It was the first time I realized my dad isn’t perfect.”
8 They Didn’t Want This For Me
Stefan* admits he knows his parents tried to stay together simply because they had a child together.
But he says he’s happy that they eventually separated because he thinks it was better for their entire family in the long run.
“I think my parents would have broken up even earlier if I hadn’t been in the picture. I know they really, really tried to stay together because they both came from divorced families, but that just added to their marriage’s stress.
I’m thankful they called it quits when they did because I wouldn’t want them to sacrifice their happiness just because they think it’d be better for me.”
7 Feeling Like A Burden
Maci* says her parents made her feel like a burden during and even after their divorce.
“My parents divorced when I was just under 6. It was a really messy split. My dad was already seeing someone else, and my mom was trying to move his stuff out of the house as fast as possible. I was really confused about what was going on and evidently asking a lot of questions.
My parents just kept getting mad at me for getting in the way, rather than explaining it to me.
It made me feel like a burden. Even after things calmed down, I always felt like a reminder to each of them about one another, which made me feel like they resented me.”
6 Better Than The Alternative
Eric* says that he doesn’t remember much before his parents got divorced, other than the fact that they were constantly arguing. He admits that, if that was going to be the norm if they stayed together, he’s happy his parents eventually did split ways.
“All I remember before my parents' divorce was how much they were fighting. Things actually felt a lot calmer once they split up and moved apart from each other.
I don’t know much different other than my parents being divorced, but I much prefer that to them screaming at each other all the time.”
5 We Have Feelings, Too
Jason* feels upset over the fact that neither of his parents asked their kids how they were feeling while the divorce was being finalized.
“The one thing that sticks out in my mind is that no one asked us how we felt.
My parents were so busy dividing up the assets, like the house, cars, and all the things in between. But not once did they stop to ask if us kids were okay. Or what we wanted to happen.
Even today, neither of them have asked us how we felt when they were separating. Divorce is such a self-centered thing.”
4 She’s A Different Person Now
Rachel* says that her parents’ divorce had a positive impact on her mom, who’s acted like a changed woman ever since.
“Obviously, having your parents divorced isn’t the ideal. It always made celebrating holidays and going on vacation difficult. But I don’t always think it’s a bad thing.
I remember my mom being a lot sadder and unhappy when she and my dad were together. But there was a change in her once they split. She just seems more lively and adventurous, and open to do things. I can’t imagine her being the same if they would’ve stayed together.”
3 It’s Time To Grow Up
Monica* admits that her parents’ separation caused her to mature a lot faster than she would have in other circumstances.
“The worst part of my parents’ divorce was it forced me to grow up a lot quicker.
I was the eldest of my four siblings, so it was my responsibility to explain to them what was going on and reassure them everything was fine. I remember believing in love before my parents split, but then after I thought that every adult couple would get divorced eventually.
I think it’s affected my ability to trust in relationships.”
2 She Just Gave Up On Us
Katrina* says her mom’s battles with addictions is what led her father to file for divorce. Rather than her mom realizing her mistakes and attempting to get help for her problems, the stress of the separation evidently just sent her in a downward spiral, which has made Katrina feel like her mom gave up on their family.
“My dad filing for divorce was the breaking point for my mom. He thought it would help her admit she had addictions issues, but it pushed her further down the hole.
When he told her he wanted full custody, she basically put up no fight. It felt like our mom gave up on us at that moment.”
1 Not-So-Happy Holidays
Meghan* says that figuring out who they were going to spend holidays with was the worst part of growing up with divorced parents.
“The worst thing about having divorced parents is figuring out holidays. Because my mom had full-time custody, the arrangement said we had to spend most holidays with our dad.
Our mom would always make a big deal about it since we never got to spend any holidays with her, which made us kids feel guilty (though we didn’t have any say in the custody arrangement).
Then we always felt like we missed out on celebrating with at least one side of our family.”
*Names have been changed.