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"Mommy...Daddy...Why are you getting divorced?"

That's exactly the question kids ask when their parents sit them down on the living room couch as they stand on opposite sides of the room to announce that they're getting divorced. Divorce usually means that there has been a lot of tension in the parents' relationship for a while. It's usually a sign of the end of a drawn out conflict, not the beginning.

So why is the kid so surprised?

Because the parents don't want the children to see them having conflict. If two parents are in a arguing and the child comes home, the argument usually stops until they're alone again. Parents think that they are protecting the child that way. Therefore, the child hasn't heard or witnessed any of the conflict that led up to this point.

What's the problem with that?

Children never get to see how two people who deeply love each other resolve conflicts. They only see the aftermath. As a result, the child grows up thinking that marriage and love are conflict-free, so the moment they get into a conflict with someone they love dearly, their expectations don't align with reality.

So what should parents do?

Perhaps instead of hiding conflict from children, parents should invite them to listen. The presence of the child may even force the parents to communicate better. I can't think of any better opportunity for a child to get a chance to see healthy conflict resolution than between their parents. Children should see both sides of love to a certain extent.

Perhaps this is why the United States is such a litigious country, always at war, and our visions of love are so romanticized. We never learned how to solve problems with loving hearts, therefore we blame, accuse, and fight. Problems don't mean love is diminished or absent. Oftentimes, problems are simply opportunities to grow the love.

On the flip side, a child can get accustomed to unnecessary conflict and assume that it is necessary part of love. I wish I children with divorced parents like myself could experience two people who love each other attempt to solve problems even if they don't succeed at sustaining the relationship. It's possible to have problems without hate.


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Jullien's Purpose Statement

My purpose is to help as many people as possible reach their full potential by helping them making a living doing what they love and in the process of doing so achieve my own. I want to do this through writing, speaking, and creating offline and online spaces that facilitate conversations around purpose.

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