Jane and I just watched The Squid and the Whale last night. It has been out for about a year and a half now; this is what happens when you depend on Netflix to see movies. I blame the children for this.
It’s an excellent movie. It is essentially about a couple going through a divorce, and how that impacts their two sons. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney play the parents, and Jessie Eisenberg and Owen Kline play the sons, and each performance is fantastic, particularly those of Daniels, Eisenberg and Kline.
There are a number of great, small moments in the movie, my favorite being the reactions of each of the sons as they go through their day, knowing when they get home that night they will be told their parents are getting a divorce.
After we watched the movie, Jane and I took an inventory of people we know, and how many of them either are divorced or had parents who divorced. It probably ends up about 50/50 in each category, but many of my friends in particular came from homes that went through a divorce. Both Jane and my parents are still married, so on some levels divorce is difficult to relate to, particularly as it concerns how kids deal with divorce. I haven’t had the conversation with too many of my friends about how they were impacted by their parents’ divorce; most of them are pretty well-adjusted in general, so it’s easy to draw the conclusion that it wasn’t that big of a deal for them, but obviously the reality has to be more complicated than that. For many kids a divorce probably makes their lives better in the short or long term, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to go through. And of course it also depends on how old a kid is when it all happens.
For the most part in my life I have tended to view the marital status of my friends’ parents as a simple matter of demographics, just another part of their backstory like where they grew up or what they studied in school. But after we watched the movie and took that mental inventory of divorce-impacted friends, I started to think more about what kinds of things my friends may have had to deal with, or adjust to, as they grew up. For many of them I’m sure it was a challenge, but ultimately just another part of life they had to deal with. For others, I’m sure it was more profound than that.
It’s hard to say divorces are necessarily bad things; many of the people I know ended up closer to a step-parent than their real ones. But all the same, I’m glad I came from a family that didn’t go through that. Growing up was tough enough without having to deal with that.