Feb. 14, 2007
Elizabeth Marquardt at the always excellent Family Scholars Blog notes that people tend to associate negative connotations to the concept of commuter marriages. Marquardt believes that many people think that somehow, at the very least, the physical presence of a couple together is what makes a marriage real. She goes on to note that we take a quite different view when it comes to the children of divorce:
When it comes to children whose parents part, most people will concede that something sad has happened but these days many people will also add something like this: well, divorce happens a lot. Children of divorce know a lot of other kids growing up the same way. Its not such a big deal nowadays. Its normal.
In other words, when it comes to the parent-child relationship we dont think much of the fact that for many children today even the simple physical presence of both parents in their daily lives cannot be taken for granted. Some who support widespread divorce might even argue that the daily presence of their parent is not all that critical to the parent-child relationship. The parent-child relationship is no less real simply because they dont live together.
A commuter childhood is just another way of growing up these days. But a commuter marriage? Well, what adult wants to live in that?
Indeed, children of divorce are often expected to endure a situation that most adults would never willingly choose for themselves. Edith from Monastic Musings adds an insightful point:
The push and pull of ties in two locations is amplified when there is a parent in both places. The unsettling feeling of being in someone else's home - but having a right to be there - or not having any stable sense of home. The fatigue with travel, with schedules, with packing and unpacking, with planning. The pressure to be happy and upbeat - no matter how hard the day or week - because there is only a short amount of time to be together -- all of those things are present for the commuter child as well. If it is hard on a marriage, it is certainly hard on a parent-child relationship.
These are not identical situations, certainly. But it makes the studies about the impact of divorce on relationships between parents and children much easier to understand. No wonder so many parents and children grow distant over time: commuter love is hard to do!