Official Student Newspaper of Henry M. Gunn High School

Courtesy of Zoe Kamphuis

Junior Zoe Kamphuis: Living with Divorced Parents

Junior Zoe Kamphuis was 8 years old when her parents called her in for a family meeting that would completely change her life. She remembers being filled with excitement, hoping to be surprised with a family trip to Disneyland. Although she knew that was unlikely, she never anticipated what the reality of the talk would be: Her parents were getting divorced. Kamphuis only remembers a fleeting moment of sadness, which quickly disappeared. “Because I was so young, I felt a bit down,” she said. “But my parents also gave me ice cream when they told me, so I wasn’t that sad.”

Since Kamphuis was young when her parents got divorced, she doesn’t recall struggling with adapting to the separation. The household change wasn’t particularly jarring for Kamphuis because having parents who lived separately was not a foreign concept. “Living in separate households wasn’t something that I felt was super different or uncommon because many of my close friends had parents that also didn’t live together,” she said.

However, as Kamphuis got older, her perspective began to shift slightly. Despite being okay with her parents’ divorce, she has sometimes envied people with married parents. “Having married parents seems very nice and put together with their picket-fence lifestyles,” Kamphuis said. “I know that my life would probably look a lot different if my parents were still together, but at the same time, I don’t feel the need to change any aspect of my current life.”

Kamphuis’ parents had an amicable divorce and agreed that they would be happier apart. As a result, she didn’t have to deal with any custody quarrels. Her parents now share custody of her and her younger brother. Although it can be troublesome to have to carry belongings between houses, she doesn’t view it as too much of a challenge. “It’s not really that different from a nuclear family besides the physical aspect because my parents still get along,” Kamphuis said. “My parents are still friends, so it’s not really life-changing.”

Despite minor inconveniences, Kamphuis believes that having two households has its benefits. She appreciates celebrating holidays twice with her parents’ different styles. The separation also allows her to cultivate a deep connection with both of her parents. “I’m definitely closer to my mom than I would have been if my parents didn’t get divorced,” she said. “I was always kind of a daddy’s girl, and I probably still would have been if they never got divorced.”

Kamphuis is grateful that she has her younger brother with her. “He’s a very different person, but we’re still there for each other,” she said. “In general, we like being at the same house together. We get to hang out and even though we don’t get along super well, we still like to make sure that we’re in the same place.”

Although media portrayal of divorce is often negative, Kamphuis believes that sometimes it’s better than a harsher reality of living in a household filled with hostility. “When people think of divorce, it’s very negative,” she said. “I think sometimes it can be a very positive thing because it’s worse to be in a household where your parents should have gotten divorced, but didn’t. Overall, both my households are very peaceful and I don’t think it would have been that way if my parents didn’t get divorced.”

Now that she’s older, Kamphuis understands that the divorce was needed. “I don’t think that they were meant to be together, so I’m not resentful towards it,” she said. “Both my parents are very different people, so I respect their decision.”

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