Parents have a right to date, too

Illustration by Diana Ortega

Valentine’s Day is an especially controversial holiday because of all the awkward situations one may witness. Among all the pink and red, overpriced gifts and sudden viral wedding proposals, it’s difficult to bear through the day. Adding an additional layer by being a child of divorced parents puts the icing on the cake.

As a child with divorced parents, one simply must come to terms that their parents are happier apart. It can be hard as the cringey boyfriends or girlfriends of parents come and go, and the feeling only amplifies due to the convenience of adults now using online dating. Rather than choosing to revel in the awkward and uncomfortable, though, I choose to make the most of celebrating the relationships I have with my parents on Valentine’s Day.

Parents in search of love alongside their children can be disastrously cringe-worthy. Nothing is more unsettling than swiping past a parent’s profile on a dating app or being innocently nosy and catching a glimpse of a photo that one didn’t want to see.

This only gets worse when one feels like they must walk a tightrope in their own love life to not accidentally upset a parent who is starting a new relationship. Inversely, one may feel that navigating a parent’s new relationship feels like being frozen in place and forced to watch a two-star romantic comedy movie.

Children of divorce especially struggle when coming to terms with the honeymoon phase of a parent’s new relationship. I’ve had my fair share of times I wished I was able to evaporate when one of my parents kissed their significant other at the dinner table.

However, it is unfair for parents to never search for love again out of fear of making their children uncomfortable. Even divorced parents deserve to find love again. Every human is in search of their fairytale ending and deserves to feel unconditional love from a significant other and family.

In the past, my parents have always given me and my sister something special to let us know that we are loved and that they were thinking of us on Valentine’s Day. This gesture is something that always brightened my day, and I came to realize that my parents were my first loves.

In recent years, I took it upon myself to make gifts for my parents because I am a poor college student. Money aside, I feel individualized letters and gifts make the authenticity of sincerity behind the gift much stronger.

Although the awkwardness that is Valentine’s Day is unavoidable, at least I know my parents feel some sort of love coming from me on that day, and every day after.

Beyond Valentine’s Day, parents also deserve support and patience as they get back into romance and dating. That means accepting every factor that makes a relationship, including the public displays of affection. If parents can deal with their kids having broken hearts and can magically nurse them back into a functional human being, it’s only fair that the same feeling and process is reciprocated.

One may find that it actually feels great to talk to a parent about the ins and outs of dating, and it could be a newfound platform for connection.

Take it from a child of divorced parents, it can be difficult to accept the fact that one’s parents aren’t getting back together. The quicker that idea can be accepted, the quicker one can expect a less painful healing process.

Every situation is different, though, and I encourage every child of divorce to allow themselves and their parents patience and time to get everything back in order.

If there is one talent that parents are great at, it’s hiding their emotions from their kids. More likely than not, one’s parents are also heartbroken over all that has happened just as much as, if not more than, any other person.

Valentine’s Day can be a great day for children and their divorced parents if they are allowed the time, given the patience and feel the love from one another.

At the dinner table on Valentine’s Day, take a moment to soak in all that a divorced parent has been through and try to lower any emotional walls you may have so that your parents can feel happy and accepted.