I’m a child of divorce. I have been as long as I can remember, since my parents split up when I was three. It’s a big part of who I am, for better and for worse. Being a child of divorce will affect you no matter who you are. But that doesn’t make it a bad thing. What I don’t understand is the seemingly recent push to call divorced families “blended.” What does that even mean? I guarantee whoever came up with that term has parents that are still married to each other.
“Blended” implies that families coming together after divorce, through remarriage and otherwise, do so seamlessly. And I just don’t think that’s true. Divorce isn’t easy. Divorce is hard. Divorce sucks. Why do we need to pretend that it’s not?
Take a look at this ad from Honey Maid about a “blended” family. As a child of divorce — and, full disclosure, as an ad copywriter — it drives me up the wall.
This ad seems to be saying that divorce is perfectly normal. Children with divorce shouldn’t feel like they’re any different than the other kids at school. Well, guess what? They are different. To pretend otherwise is really unfair to the child. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay that your parents aren’t together anymore. And it’s okay to be unhappy about it.
I get that this ad is trying to say that being a kid of divorce is okay, but it’s also essentially celebrating divorce. That’s what gets me. This is not something to be celebrated. It is an extremely hard, devastating and life-altering thing. People absolutely recover from it and build new, happy lives and families, but they sure as shit don’t do it with the help of the wholesomeness of some Honey Maid crackers.
I have four parents. That’s how I see it. My two biological parents and my two stepparents. But that doesn’t mean I have a blended family. It means I have two families. And these families have pretty clearly defined lines, in my mind. We don’t all get together and have picnics on the beach and celebrate our blendedness with smoothies and other allegorical snacks. Each family has their own get-togethers, events, dinners, problems, memories, etc. That’s just the way it is. And, as I keep repeating myself, that’s totally okay. It is different from families with parents who are still together, but it’s still okay. That’s what kids of divorce should be told.
I’d love to see an ad that documents this kind of reality for divorced families. Not cherry picking one where both sides get along and everyone can stand to be around each other and everything is peachy and suitable for a weeknight media buy. This ad is based on a false insight. Sure, both sides in some divorced families get along. But most don’t. And I’m not just basing that on my own experience.
People get divorced for a lot of reasons. A big one of those is that they don’t really want to see the other person again. They don’t divorce with the goal of meeting someone new and then keeping their ex spouse around as their best bud. They move apart. They separate. They don’t want to be together anymore.
With that in mind, I’d like to suggest a new term for what people do when they divorce: they unblend.