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Published:September 1st, 2005 16:26 EST
Cutting the Ties That Bind: Divorce

Cutting the Ties That Bind: Divorce


As I`ve grown up, I`ve seen myself un-learn various customs my parents have tried to teach me. When meeting my friends` parents or other adult acquaintances, I`ve always been instructed to greet them with a title of respect, such as Mr. " or Mrs., " followed by their last name.  However, this practice has proven impractical as more and more of the elders of my village are getting divorced. When I enter a home to find a mother and no sign of a patriarch, I naturally assume the worst, and later ask a confidant what the poor woman`s preferred name is. Slowly but surely, it`s becoming politically incorrect to use the term, parents. "

The common consensus is that divorce is a bad thing. It`s an epidemic that is fostered within our own court systems, and with the introduction of no-fault " laws (which allow divorces to be carried out with no blame directed at either parent), families can be split up in the blink of an eye. It`s been said that, with no-fault divorce laws in effect, it`s an easier legal process to divorce one`s spouse than to fire an employee.

"Children without fathers, or whose parents float in and out of their lives after divorce, are the most precarious little boats in the most turbulent seas, " says Sen. Hillary Clinton in her book, It Takes a Village. A generation of parents calling it quits is sad, but a new generation of kids lacking essential life skills is potentially dangerous. Statistics show children whose parents are divorced are more likely to be aggressive, depressed, and otherwise socially handicapped. A tree cannot grow without strong roots.  

Though divorce is obviously a problem, it exists for a reason. Alcoholism, domestic abuse, repeated infidelity: these are just a few causes for the proverbial knot, " regardless of how beautiful and promising it once was, to be untied. I`d rather have separate parents than unhappy parents, " says Jessica Brown, an 18-year-old student whose parents divorced when she was a child. You can`t force people to be together when they`re unhappy. Unhappy couples take their aggression out on their kids, and that just creates more problems for innocent children. "

In fact, the assumption that single parents are ill-equipped to raise children must be questioned. The statistics hold a certain degree of validity, but they are not all-encompassing. Many single parents, through child support payments and regular visits, are able to provide for their children a healthy home and the essential duality of mother-father parenting. Those parents that do find themselves in debt after a breakup are often in a situation that would carry financial trouble with or without another parent. This is why there exists a safety net for the true victims of divorce: the children.  

The wellbeing of the children is the most important concern in divorce arguments, as well the most often undercut. More and more kids are becoming aware of the nature of divorce, but long talks full of phrases like it`s not your fault " are no longer going to cut it. When nearly 50% of couples in the United States are doomed to divorce is when we face important crossroads with our kids, and the danger we face as a society begins to be very real.

One of the most compelling arguments for the ban on gay marriage states roughly that the institution of marriage is the building block of our society, and that it must be upheld in order to secure family values in future generations. If this is true, then a state of failed relationships run-amok is bad news for the future. Having divorced parents is hurtful enough, but what about parents who have gone through several divorces? How confused must a child be when he or she has a plethora of ex-step dads and ex-step moms battling for their custody? When an entire country stops expecting relationships to succeed, what will prevent the concept of family " from blurring before our eyes?

The battle against the divorce epidemic begins in the courts, but it ends within the lives of a progressive society. The blame for a decaying moral fabric cannot be placed squarely on judges and fancy rulebooks, but must instead rest with the plethora of couples hurling accusations and defaulting on the vows of marriage in the name of self-interest. The debate over no-fault divorces will cool down when the need for them in lessened; until then, we`ll have to do all we can to keep the word parents " in our vocabulary.