The one happy memory I have of my parents, the happy, perfect couple, was when I was only six years old. We were on our family trip to Disney World. My parents held hands, shared a few intimate pecks on the lips, and were constantly smiling. As a young girl, I was too ignorant to understand the value and beauty of true love in its purest form. After that, the smiles and kisses turned into the screaming fights and sobbing that woke me up in the middle of the night. I am still not sure if they thought I was listening to them, but I was, for months, and their echoing screams at one another continue to linger in my thoughts today. I was woken up by the yells every night until mom and dad sat me and my seven-year-old brother down to tell us about the divorce they were getting. At six, I was not too familiar with the word "divorce", for it had never come up in one of our vocabulary lessons in school; however, seeing my father cry for the first time made me realize a "divorce" was not something to be excited about.

Fast forward to present day and my parents have been divorced for over ten years now. I am very accustomed to the switching of houses and constantly needing to pack a way-too-big bag in order to stay over my dad's house for only two days. Even as the strong and independent young woman I have grown into today, the thought of my parent's divorce still fogs my thoughts every day.

The hard part about living with a broken family is not the switching of houses every few days or texting the absent parent goodnight when I'm not with him or her. It's seeing happy families at dinner together, or on vacation, or simply laughing with one another over their favorite Wednesday night comedy show, and knowing that will never be my family. Living with divorced parents makes you feel incomplete. Who gets me on my birthday? Will I see both parents on Christmas Day, or will I see one on Christmas Eve instead? Who will be taking me out to my anticipated congratulatory dinner the day I graduate high school? One parent is always missing, and nothing can come close to filling that void.

Some kids see having divorced parents as easy, and some even see it as a luxury. They think that having two birthdays and having two Christmases is worth losing all the family dinners and the family nights fighting over what movie to watch since it is impossible for everyone to decide on just one.

They think getting a few extra presents each year is worth the distress to both the parents and the children felt when going through a divorce, and that feeling of emptiness that is impossible to neglect. If you are one to think that, my advice to you: Take a step back. Appreciate the loving family you have right in front of you, and realize the value of that love shared among all. Some children are not as fortunate as you are.

Even though living with divorced parents is very common among children these days, I think I speak for all kids in broken families that it is hard, and an even harder transition to begin with; however, the one thing that I realized would be harder to live with would be knowing that my parents were not happy being with one another. Currently, both my mother and father have been married for approximately six to seven years each. The one thing different between my parents in the past, when they were married to each other, and my parents now, when married to their separate spouses, is that they are both genuinely happy.

It is the pure happiness that you can sense by their presences, or their smiles, or their laughs. The happiness that gets you excited to meet the person you are going to fall in love with one day. Happiness truly is one of the best gifts one can be given during his or her lifetime, and my mother and father's current partners bring that to them every day. For me, realizing the gift and value of my parent's happiness took me quite a long time to understand.

Up until recently, I constantly thought about my parent's divorce in terms of its effects on me, and how it was changing my life. Anger would seize my body at the thought of my parents falling out of love. What could have happened that was that terrible to cause this? How could they do this to the one they love? I believe many kids in my situation view a divorce in the same lights that I did, which I believe is not wrong or selfish in any way.

That is what I would expect to be any child's first reaction; the child is not in his or her parent's shoes. Finding an appreciation for my parent's happiness made me realize why their divorce was necessary. Having my parents be miserable together is significantly worse than having them happy and apart, which is how I came to accept my parent's divorce. For me, the acceptance of my parent's divorce was a transition for me, a transition from childhood to adulthood. If my parents are happy, I cannot be anything but happy, as well.

For those in a broken family:

Family is one of the most important things in life. Never think that having divorced parents takes that away from you. Try to view the situation in a different light- in your parents' shoes. Realize that the decision to get a divorce was not made to hurt you, and most importantly, know that you are not the reason for its occurrence. Know the unconditional love both parents still and forever hold for you. Know that it truly does get easier.

And finally, to my parents who may or may not be reading this:

I cannot begin to express my love for you two. Please never think that I am mad at either of you for getting a divorce. I completely forgive you both, and now understand why a divorce was necessary for the two of you. Thank you for raising me into the young woman I am today. I truly benefit from seeing you both happy with the one you love. I hope to find a love like yours some day.