Ten Minutes Away, Worlds Apart

Being raised by divorced parents is difficult enough, but when they hold diametrically opposed beliefs, children have to fend for themselves.


image by Lucie Flagg

Despite being only four miles apart, my two homes feel like they're worlds away from each other.

Lucie Flagg, Staff Writer

The words “mom” and “dad” don’t go together in my vocabulary, and it feels as though they never have. Ever since kindergarten when my parents got divorced, it’s been “Dad and Tricia” and “Mom and Will.” 

At first, when we developed the mom’s house vs. dad’s house schedule, my sister and I found immense difficulties in adjusting to the new lifestyle. But as we’ve gotten older, we’ve adapted to the life of inhabiting two houses.

My two houses, though less than a ten minute’s drive away from each other, feel like they’re worlds apart. In fact, knowing the lives my parents live now, it’s hard to believe they were ever married to begin with. My mother and stepfather, married in 2011, share very liberal and atheist beliefs, while my father and stepmother, who married in 2010, are Christians with more conservative beliefs.

Of course, I love all four of my parents, but this split in parental ideologies has made a pronounced impact on me and my sister. Typically, children follow the political and religious paths of their parents, but my sister and I were taught all points of view — and in some ways, we’ve grown into well-rounded women because of that influence.

Getting older means making more decisions for yourself, and for me, it has meant putting these struggles behind me. ”

But in many other ways, our ideologically divided upbringing brought unnecessary stress. Throughout our youth, my sister and I felt the need to smile and nod anytime one of our parents said anything we disagreed with, and we’ve often had to listen to one parent bashing the political and religious viewpoints of the other parent. For a child, hearing your own parent’s beliefs belittled can be far more damaging than many adults might expect.

I could wake up one morning, being told that God has a wonderful plan for me and then be told the complete opposite that very night. These conflicting ideas made an imprint on my brain, even when I was too young to fully comprehend what was happening. It was hard, as an innocent girl, to know that my dad wanted to me go to church with him even though I wasn’t allowed by my mom.

It’s a confusing life for two girls to be raised on, but, despite our complicated childhoods, my sister and I emerged as two mature and grounded individuals. We know from abundant experience that it’s critical to hear all sides of an argument before forming an opinion, and I’d like to think we’re highly respectful of everyone, no matter what they believe.

As for my own personal beliefs, I’ve formed beliefs over the years that many may not side with but I think most would recognize and appreciate. I prefer to look towards people and relationships with a full heart because I know firsthand what happens when we let love deteriorate. And that, more than anything, goes beyond ideology.

When I was younger, I struggled with finding my place between two houses, four parents, and four (step)siblings. But getting older means making more decisions for yourself, and for me, it has meant putting these struggles behind me.

My sister and I may never know what it’s like to be a part of a traditional family, but what we have we’ve learned to love, and that’s enough for us.