One evening, I was crossing a park on my way home when I saw a man with two kids going the other direction. They caught my attention because they seemed lost, and I wondered if they needed some help finding some location, but that didn’t seem to be the case. The man seemed to be sad and confused, carrying a big suitcase. Two kids were walking behind him, also carrying some luggage. They were both crying, divided between catching up with their father and turning back. The smallest one, a girl, suddenly turned back, and the boy followed her and tried to convince her of something he didn’t seem to be sure of himself.
They didn’t seem to notice me, or maybe they were too ashamed to look around. I wasn’t staring at them either, it was just a second´s glance. After they passed me by, I simply sat on a bench and wept.
I’m one of them, one of the divorce children, or divorce orphans. Commonplace for the last generations. I saw it happening around me. Like dominoes, families were falling, my friends’ families were falling, and one day it was my own family’s turn to fall. Actually, my family was one of the last ones in the wave of divorces that swept over my social circle. By then they were already saying that divorce was a normal thing, that it was egotistical of kids to suffer from it. Parents had the right to be happy, too.
Cool and successful celebrities were getting married and divorced over and over again. They declared marriage was an outdated institution. Out of the spotlight, fathers not only divorced their wives, they also divorced their children. Homes didn’t seem so safe anymore, and with just one weight on the scale, many children grew unbalanced.
But life goes on. Many of us took a longer time to find ourselves but one way or another, we adapted – after all, the ability to adapt is the most fantastic feature of humankind.
Soon, the voice of young adults started to sing the sorrow and pain caused by a divorce. Ironically, it’s not about their own relationships, but about their parents’. Fame and money didn’t heal the deep wound caused by a broken family.
The first was the punk-looking pop singer Pink, with the song “Family Portrait”. It was a bit contradictory for Pink, with that entire rebel attitude, to sing, “Daddy please don’t leave”. But maybe that made the song even more heartbreaking. When her parents heard the song, they were said to have cried for four days.
Then Anastacia made the music video for the song “Welcome to my truth”, where a little girl watches her father leave to never come back. In reality, Anastacia’s father really did leave one day to never contact her again, not even after she became famous.
Now it’s Kelly Clarkson’s turn to take advantage of the microphone to cry out “Because of you”, where she correlates her own marriage to her parents’, singing “I’ve learned the hard way to never go that far”. Although Clarkson’s lyrics sound slightly more populist, they do bring a feeling of relief. Maybe my theory was right, maybe our generation did learn from our parents’ mistakes. Maybe we can strike a balance between marriage for the sake of the kids, and hedonism. Maybe.
The writer is a Brazilian-born journalist living in Helsinki