After your parents separated, it wasn't just a matter of court orders and paperwork. It was also weekends, compromising between families, and running around to make the people you love happy, too. When you reach college, a breeding ground of independence and reflection, there's a lot you realize to feel grateful (and still anxious) about.
1. You know how to pack
You probably spent a few nights at your mom or dad's place, and whether or not you had your own room, you still had certain toiletries, your favorite pair of jeans, and a pair of shoes you want to wear that you just had to bring. You can pack quickly, efficiently, and you probably rarely forget all the things you need. So for all those team retreats, you have planned, weekends in the mountains with your friends you're anticipating, or a spontaneous sleepover at your significant other's, you're ready with a duffle bag in hand.
2. You can handle different people
Your parents probably had different parenting styles. One parent is more traditional, the other lax. One easier to talk to, the other you'd have to skirt your way around and omit some information from your day. Even though all parents are like this, when they're separated into different homes and different visitation times, the difference in parenting style is just so much more pronounced. In college, you meet a ton of different people with different ways of dealing with school work, themselves, and you. You know how to notice different cues and adjust accordingly.
3. You know how to compromise
Having parents with different parenting styles meant quite the amount of conflict between the two, especially when it came to raising you. There's probably been times where you had to mediate by combining ideas and beliefs or had to split your time to a T so as to be fair. There have also been moments where you hesitate from decisions as you consider how a parent can react or feel about your decision. This ability could help you when coworkers or project mates have conflicting ideas because you can take the best of conflicting perspectives and make a compromise that includes both.
4. Time management isn't a foreign skill to you
Since you only saw one of your parents for a limited time out of the week, you didn't want to spend all that time doing homework! Having divorced parents has helped you manage your time efficiently for the weekends, so you can enjoy it with the people you love. In college, it's a bit more difficult because events tend to happen on the weekend, midterms get scheduled on Mondays, or there is just a lot of work to do between Friday-Sunday. Still, you're still able to schedule efficiently so that you have some time to spend with people or things you care about.
5. You have video chats and call times scheduled
College is one of the busiest times in your life, and your schedule is packed but that doesn't mean both of your families don't miss you! Scheduling video chats to update your parents about your life can be difficult to follow sometimes, but when there's that nagging feeling you miss them, you call despite that schedule. It's all about prioritizing that time for both parents.
6. You can recite your day/week
Speaking of video chats or calls, you've probably gone through your day at least twice. It's completely fine though because you get different opinions and reactions from either parent as they try their best to still guide you from miles and miles away.
7. If you're close to home, you've also scheduled your own visitation times
They got you a car for a reason. Having separated parents and living relatively close to both means you can decide where to go when you're not too busy studying for finals but now that you're 18, it's your job to decide where to go (goodbye, court order!), and it's all about evenly splitting your time amongst the people you love (even if you barely have time for yourself sometimes).
8. If you're not near home, vacations are split to spend enough time with everyone
You're attending college, hours away from home or on the other side of the country, meaning you don't have to schedule your weekends to visit your parents. However, that does mean that when the holidays roll around, you're trying to squeeze your friends, your parents, and your alone time in a time span of three weeks. It can be hard to do sometimes, but spending quality time with people you care about makes it worth it.
9. You meet a lot of people who are in the same boat as you!
You're exposed to SO MANY PEOPLE in college, and having divorced parents isn't going to be your only common denominator. However, you end up realizing there's a lot of people in the same boat as you, and you just feel a little less alone after having the image of a perfect nuclear family always being shoved down your throat :) Your experiences are different and that's alright!
You realize there's a lot to unpack (and that's okay).
Even more okay than realizing your experiences are unique is that some things you grew up seeing or hearing may have not been okay. There could be a lot to address as you mature, especially if your parents separated when you were really young and impressionable. For instance, according to the National Survey of Children's Health, those with divorced parents tend to have more aggressive, and almost violent, ways to deal with conflict with their peers. That's a scary statistic to realize, especially if you see it in yourself and something to talk about with a professional, and that's 100% okay to do.
Every experience is different for those whose parents have divorced. Some good traits benefit you in college, while others are issues you realize needs to be addressed. Sometimes it takes an emotional and physical toll now that you're responsible for the time you spend with everyone, but there is the gratification you feel when you can still turn to your mom or your dad when you need them. Neither the best familial situation nor the worst, just remember that every experience is unique, valid, and okay.
You'll be okay, too.