In today’s world wherein technology is cherished, and the fatter someone’s wallet is, the better is the world’s reception for him or her, it is no wonder that the strong foundations of families are shattered. Most of the families that are broken apart have children. These children could be of any age group from being a toddler to a teenager. They are left with nannies or baby-sitters and guardians, instead of the pre-requisite mother and father. They are the ones who are most experienced in the world.
Take for example the popular novels such as the “Shopaholic” series by Sophie Kinsella and “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom – all feature divorced families at one point or another. This paper will focus on the novel “The TV Guidance Counselor” by A. C. LeMieux, and will determine what really happens to children of broken homes. Other novels will be used as reference to further strengthen the claim. A Feeling Of Loss and Longing “Why have kids and leave them? That’s the part that I don’t understand” (Weiner, 2001, p. 300).
This sentence clearly captures the feelings of a person who came from a broken home. This is especially hard if one is close to the parents – a daddy’s girl, a mama’s boy, or vice versa. The point is this: one moment, a person shuffles along in his or her happy fairytale with mommy and daddy attending to his every need, and then, he or she wakes up to find his or her family split in two. Families are supposed to stick together through thick and thin. Aside from change, families are supposed to be constant things in life.
They should never leave each other, and they should always be there for each family member. There’s this thing that you’re a part of your whole life. It’s called a family and it’s a living organism. And you’re a single cell in this organism and so are your parents and your brother, if you have one, which I don’t, and your sister, if you have one, which I do. Each cell has its own nucleus and walls, but all the cells fit together. Then one day, the glue that holds them in place dissolves, and the organism loses its shape. Maybe one of the cell goes spinning off somewhere.
The other cells don’t know how to relate. What’s left is this twitching, incoherent mess. Then the cells start to mutate. (LeMieux, 1993, pp. 1-2) In her novel, LeMieux (1993) pointed out what could happen to children from a divorced family. Like what the lead character in her novel, Michael Madden, experienced, there is a sense of loss and longing. He did not know how to proceed with his life. All he cared about was that he is lost, and he is longing for his father to come back and make things better. Yet, that is just another youthful, wistful thinking.
Parents would not return just because their children beg them to come home. Rebellion Every person has a different way of coping with divorce. Some face the divorce with a resolve to do better in school, while others maintain a stony silence. However, the most obvious response of a teenager from a broken home is similar in most cases: rebellion. In her novel, A. C. LeMieux (1993) clearly captures an argument between the parent who was left behind and the offspring who was rebelling: …I just worry that you’re getting too wrapped up in this, maybe as a way to avoid dealing with things, or –
Or maybe it’s the way I choose to deal with things… Look who’s talking… look how you’re dealing with things. You’re obsessed with hating my father, fixated on tuna fish, and all you do is sit around on the couch and mope. At least Dad had the guts to break out of something that didn’t make him happy. (p. 88) Jennifer Weiner mentions in her novels that her characters from a divorce are often sullen, sulky, and “slutty. ” No one can really blame Weiner, seeing as divorce is often associated with negative aspects. Students could drop out of school, start engaging in premarital sex, and start doing drugs.
The list is endless, and it all brings down to one cause: the divorce. What is left to life? What is there to live for? Why do parents marry, then divorce? These are the questions that usually trudge through a teenager’s mind. Children will often try to plead with their parents that they would be “good” in exchange for the parent coming back to the family. There is always an urge for children to prove themselves. They will always try to do better, to get more attention, to try to earn the affection of the parent who left.
More often than not, the affection of the parent who left is still the one being sought out by the children. Yes, divorce is a messy business. Although it is frequent, it does not mean that it is normal. What is normal is the typical picturesque setting of a family: in the park, with the father holding the youngest proudly, the mother cradling the eldest, all smiles; in an instant, the illusion stops, and the real picture settles—a family picture that is torn in two, torn into places in such a way that one can never put the picture together again. Fighting for a Losing Battle
“So while almost all my friends were partying down the beach, I was stuck dismantling my life and stuffing it into cardboard boxes, most of which were headed for storage. Who knew when I’d see them again” (LeMieux, 1993, p. 18). This quotation clearly implies that no matter how much an individual rebels, one is only fighting a losing battle. Even though one would like to rebel and be a catalyst for change within the family, it is useless, as the parents are still the ones who will have the final say. To argue with parents that the divorce is a bad idea is futile.
Once the process of separation starts, it is only a matter of time before the inevitable happens, and when it does come, there is no turning back as the family is torn apart. Oftentimes, the teenagers who rebel will realize that they are fighting against something that they have no control over, and they will take it into their own hands to figure out what to do with their lives or to live some semblance of normality. However, most of the time, it is often too late: the girl is already pregnant, or the boy is already in jail.
Although these examples are a bit extreme, they are nonetheless a reality. Divorce is condoned in our societies. In fact, it is even legal in some countries. In this modern lifestyle, changing life partners is as easy as changing homes or buying a new car. Movie stars and other icons that the youth look up to change husbands or wives as easily as changing their underwear. This is because they have the resources to file for a divorce or annulment. However, what about those ordinary families with a meager lifestyle, or those in the third world countries?
This is why to rebel against divorce is hopeless. It is something that is tolerated, and something that the society does not fight again. Some even think that it is cool, the way people change partners. They even debate over who can marry the most. Nevertheless, one should remember that divorce has a profound effect on the children. They are not robots who will not feel anything. They will rebel against the idea of something tearing up their home. The parents might think that their children are still young, but then again, it exactly shapes who they will be in the future.
Trudging Wearily into Life “It felt very comfortable, very safe, like lying in a hammock stretched between two people who were holding you up and who would never let you fall” (LeMieux, 1993, p. 108). A. C. LeMieux (1993) mentions this as a child’s feeling before a divorce—he or she feels safe, cocooned in his or her parents’ homes, with the warm hugs of mothers at night and the father’s soothing voice as they read bedtime stories. Whatever happens, the children know that they are safe. Their parents are there to protect them. Their parents will keep them safe.
However, after the divorce, the children will realize that there is no such thing as protection from their families. They realize that they are on their own, and they will have to make the most out of what they are given. They will continue battling forward in their everyday challenges and battles. In her novel, LeMieux (1993) dressed up her character as someone who becomes mad. Michael Madden, LeMieux’s (1993) protagonist, ended up in an asylum when the pressure became too much to bear with. However, after that, Michael learned to deal with life the same way as everybody.
He learned that life is beautiful, and he can move forward despite anything. Yet, he is very lucky. As LeMieux (1993) said, “Most stories like this don’t have happy endings. They just have endings” (p. 175). Some children from broken homes have gone really downhill from the moment their families break apart. Some cannot cope with the pain; some cannot go on any longer. Some just have endings. Thus, one has to think twice before breaking any family. It is never right to break a vow. One should think of it this way: The victims of divorce are not the parents who cannot agree on things any longer.
The victims are the children who are left to figure out their lives when their parents decided they could not be with each other anymore. These children are left to discover for themselves how harsh the world really is—this time, without the powerful guidance of both parents, whose opinions make all the change.
References Albom, M. (2006). For One More Day. New York: Hyperion Goodwin, S. (2003). Breaking Her Fall. Florida: Hardcourt. LeMieux, A. C. (1993). The TV Guidance Counselor. New York: Avon Books. Weiner, J. (2001). Good in Bed. New York: Washington Square Press.