I subscribe to several different social media outlets regarding family law and just yesterday I read an article about a survey done in Australia about the impact of divorce on children. In the article, the author repeatedly referred to children who had been raised in a “broken home”, which meant their parents were divorced.
It made me wonder: what is a broken home? The author’s perspective is that a home without married parents in it is somehow “broken”; I believe a home with two parents who do not respect and love each other is a more accurate definition of a broken. A home where mom and dad do not provide a loving and safe environment is broken. A home where children are not cherished and supported is broken. I know lots of people who grew up in what I would call “broken” homes but their parents were married and living in the home with them. Regardless of how many parents are in a home, a home where people are loved and respected is certainly not a broken home.
I would argue that the author’s own perspective is the very problem for children whose parents are divorced. It is society which has decided that children raised in a home without two parents are somehow inferior. We are led to believe that they are destined for a life of failure because their parents divorced, or never married. In an effort to value marriage, somehow society has stigmatized children who grow up in homes without two parents. We should value marriage while also respecting the fact that some people, for a variety of important reasons, need to be divorced.
Until we can shake off the stigma of divorce, children will be embarrassed by their situation. Of course the ideal family situation for every child would include parents who are happily married and supportive of each other as well as their children, but having one parent who supports and loves a child more than anything in the world is equally wonderful, and some children have two parents in different homes giving them all the support anyone could imagine. Any child who has the unconditional loving support of any adult–parent, grandparent, neighbor, or guardian–is fortunate and has a great chance of success.
There is nothing broken about a home where a parent does everything possible to give her or his child the best life possible; those who choose to judge are broken.