Why we can’t use math to understand the child of divorce

I suspect that a lot of people don’t relate to the kids of divorce because they have a wrong formula in their heads. I suspect that the following formula is what most people have in the backs of their minds when they think of the live of a child of divorce:

1/2 + 1/2 = 1

The parenting was cut into two halves. Since two halves make one whole, then what’s the big deal? One-half of a parent plus one-half of a parent should equal one parent. One-half of a family plus one-half of a family should equal one family. It’s just simple arithmetic. This would also explain the “just get over it” rhetoric. People operate under a faulty equation, then assume things about the child of divorce that are untrue.

I was about twelve or so when I consciously understood that my two half-time dads did not equal one dad. I had my dad and my step-dad. If we use math to understand the dynamic, it seems like being with each of them for half-time would be the same as having one whole dad. But it was not. I am not 100% sure how I came to this realization. It may be due to the fact that I was an eye witness to what a full-time dad looked like. My step-dad was a full-time dad to my half-sister. I could see quite clearly that what she had and what I had were two different things.

apple-split-not-public-domain-give-attributionAn apple that is cut into two pieces is no longer an apple. It is two halves of an apple. The apple lost its wholeness, and it is hard to quantify that loss because the math still adds up. But there is a qualitative difference between an apple and two halves of an apple, and simple arithmetic does not capture this difference. This qualitative difference is lost in the discussion.

It does not work to use a simple math equation to quantify the reality for a child of divorce. For the child of divorce, 1/2 + 1/2 < 1.

Image credit: Frank C. Müller

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Author: everybodysdaughter

I'm an adult child of divorce, having been raised in multiple divorce/remarriage situations. I'm writing in order to shed light on the problems of divorce from the perspective of the child. I will also discuss problems with other non-triad family structures, since there is a lot of overlap. People often think that better parenting skills will overcome problems in non-triad arrangements. While I agree that parenting skills are important, they cannot overcome the problems I discuss such as fractured ontology and perpetual liminality. I converted to the Catholic faith in 2012, and will discuss Catholic things from time to time as well.

2 thoughts on “Why we can’t use math to understand the child of divorce”

  1. I LOVE this. I was quite lucky in the fact that although my parents split up and I remained with my father, the woman he married has been a full-time mother to me as well as her own children, as well as my father a full-time Dad with them. Unfortunately on the other end of things, my mother nor my step father are even close to being half-time parents, and my sisters father and step father aren’t either. It’s incredible how someone could walk into my life and choose to love me just as much as she loves her own children.

    Liked by 1 person

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