Picking a Parent

Students describe their experiences with parental divorce

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   From Disney movies to romance novels, today’s culture is saturated with stories of true love and happy endings.

  The hero always wins over the heroine, and, in the end, they live happily ever after, cementing their love for each other in a beautiful and extravagant wedding ceremony.

  However, in the real world, not everything ends in, ‘happily ever after’, and ‘forever’ doesn’t last quite as long as most would expect.

In recent years, divorce has become a surprisingly common occurrence for married couples, happening in 41 percent of all first-time marriages, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

With such staggeringly large numbers of divorces occurring every day, it is not all that uncommon to find that many students attending the high school, and some faculty, have experiences with the matter.

Estaban Solara* and Atley Watson are two such students, Solara living with his father and Watson with her mother.

  “It really wasn’t that big of a surprise that they were getting divorced,” Solara said. “They were pretty much separated for five years before getting the divorce. The divorce was just an official statement.”

     One of the biggest questions on anyone’s mind when divorce is concerned is the custody of the child and how time between the parents will be split. For both Watson and Solara, whose parents live considerable distances apart, the matter of visitation is even more important.

     “My parents were really good about working everything out and finding time for my dad to see me,” Watson said. “I see my dad once every couple months for just a weekend unless there is no school where I can stay longer.”

     “Every month, my mom stays in a hotel for five days, at the cost of my dad, and we stay with her there,” Solara said.

     While the month to month visits can be a nice break from the bustle of everyday life to catch up with a loved one, what most kids really get excited about are the possible multi-holidays shared between the parents.

      “Depending on the year, my mother gets either Christmas or Thanksgiving to have us,” Solara said.

     “My parents worked out the holidays so they alternate every year. My dad had me for Christmas this year and my mom had me for New Years, so next year they will switch,” Watson said, adding, “I would say I have six Christmases between both sides of my family, which is something you can’t complain about.”

     When custody of a child is concerned, the courts will sometimes let the child in question have a say. However, in both Solara’s and Watson’s cases, there were extenuating circumstances that prevented them from voicing their opinions.

     “I didn’t get a choice in which I’d be living with just because I was so young and didn’t really understand the whole concept of divorce,” Watson said.

     “I was staying with my mother at the time of the divorce, but some things went down. I ended up with my father simply because he was the only one with a job at the time,” Solara added.

     Although Watson was the only daughter of her parents’ marriage, Solara has an older brother who did not take the divorce well.

     “When I heard they were getting a divorce, I just thought of it as an official ending to the marriage that had already been rocky for years. It really didn’t bother me that much,” Solara said. “However, my brother took the news a lot harder. I even remember him crying about it.”

     Probably the largest question of any divorce, even larger, in fact, than custody and visitation rights, is the reason behind the divorce.

For both Solara and Watson, it seems as though their parents just found themselves to be incompatible.

     Now, years after the court proceedings and arguments have come to a stop, both Watson’s and Solara’s families are moving forward. The relationships between both sets of families remain friendly, if not a little cold in the case of Solara’s parents.

     “My parents get along really well, most of the time. Whenever I want to go see my dad, they always find me a way to go visit, which is nice,” Watson said.

     “Every once in a while, while she’s in town, my mom and dad will get dinner together. Otherwise, they pretty much ignore each other. I think the supper is just for show for my brother and me,” Solara said.

     Although both students are moving on with their lives, the divorce of their parents has left a lasting impact on both of them.

     “Being a junior in high school, being an athlete, and being involved in so many things, it’s really hard not having my dad around and attending all my events.” Watson said.

*Name changed at request of student 

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