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“Once upon a time I held these beliefs about divorce: that everyone who does it could have chosen not to do it. That it's a lazy way out of marital problems. That it selfishly puts personal happiness ahead of family integrity. Now I tremble for my ignorance”(Kingsolver n.pag.). Can divorce be a positive for the family? In what way may children benefit from it?
I do not think that parents who divorce are selfish putting “personal happiness ahead of family integrity”(Kingsolver n.pag.). It is not selfish to seek happiness, it is natural. Family integrity can be preserved even through divorce, as both parents can arrange shared custody and keep providing the child with attention, nurture, and comfort. In her essay “Stone Soup”, Barbara Kingsolver argues that children can be raised in a “non-traditional family” as well, if not better than in a full “traditional family”, which she refers to as “the family of dolls”.
The ideal environment for children to be raised in would be where both parents are happy, and happy does not always mean married. A non-functioning marriage can bring much more emotional damage to children compared to divorce. Bad marriage can lead to partners having depression, arguments and domestic violence, which can have a negative effect on children. Some partners can be so consumed with contempt for each other that they neglect their children at all. In such case, one could call these parents selfish, as they are not thinking about their child.
Robert Coles, the author of "I listen to My Parents and I Wonder What They Believe", writes how important it is for the parents to shape their children’s moral beliefs. Robert Coles might wonder what Kingsolver’s thoughts are about the message that her divorce sends to her daughter. In my opinion, Kingsolver believes that her separation is teaching her daughter not to settle for a life that makes her miserable, not to fear of changes in her life, make her own decisions, and not to be influenced by the society. Some day this lesson might save her daughter from being trapped in an unhealthy relationship. Kingsolver even states some advantages that divorce has brought to her daughter, such as diversity in living environment: house in the country, where she can play with their dog and enjoy the fresh air, and suburban lifestyle of her father with pool and side walk roller.
According to Kingsolver, families in 1995 compared with the families of the fifties were statistically more likely to divorce. However, they were more likely to provide children with a home, rate the marriages as “happy”, and were less likely to experience violence without recourse. The revelation is that despite the increase in the rate of divorce, the quality of families’ lives has significantly improved, proving that divorce is not always a negative factor in the life of a family.
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To conclude, children need love, attention, support, and a healthy living environment. It does not matter whether it will come from a traditional “family of dolls” or a non-traditional family, as long as family is functioning well and both parents are involved in the child’s upbringing.