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High Conflict Divorce Mediation

A Teenager Reflects on Divorce

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

by Kevin Friedland, Student, California

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The first time that I read this quote, I didn't understand the significance it would play in my own life. "Kevin, we are getting a divorce," cried my mother, as my heart plunged to the floor. I thought that my life was going to fall apart. To my surprise, my mother had planned for my sister and me to move, along with her, to Southern California. My dad, however, was going to remain in New Jersey because of his business. My family was splitting apart - what did this mean? Was I ever going to see my father again? Southern California? As my father backed down our long driveway, I refused to let go. I ran as fast as I could, crying hysterically, trying to get what I thought would be my last good-bye. He didn't see me at first, howeve. When he did he stopped immediately. As he got out of his car, I could see tears in his eyes that reflected those in mine. He gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be okay. I didn't know then that a divorce and a cross-country move would change my life forever.

Growing up in a single parent family means that a child has to assume additional responsibilities. From the time I was nine years old, I have been doing my own laundry, preparing dinner, and doing extra chores around the house. Although it was hard to deal with so many responsibilities at such a young age, I now recognize how they have positively affected me. My mother gave me these chores and duties so that I would learn to become responsible, self-disciplined, and trustworthy. I strive to display these qualities in all aspects of my life. As a student I always complete my homework when it is due giving that extra effort that I feel is necessary- My display of responsibility and self -discipline has not only made me a good student and a good son, but most importantly, a good person.

As a person who strives to do my best, I have also developed other important traits that have profoundly impacted other areas of my life beyond academics. As an avid soccer player for twelve years, I have received two honors in particular, that have significant meaning to me. When I was only eleven years old, I was selected captain of my soccer team. My coach told me that he selected me, not only because of my leadership abilities and my self-discipline, but because of my determination and ability to get my teammates to push themselves. I have held my position as captain of my club team for six straight years through three different coaches. I will also become captain of my high school varsity team my senior year. The second award that I received was the Snickers Fair Play Award. Despite losing the championship, I received the award for my keeping my team together and leading them throughout the tournament (not as the most valuable player, but as a role model). I know that my coach and my teammates expect more from me, not only as a player, but as a person- I also have high expectations for myself.

The high expectations that I set for myself are reflected in the choices and decisions that I am faced with on a daily basis. As a teenager, I face many instances of peer pressure, in which it seems so easy to "go with the crowd." My ability to stand apart from 'the crowd' gives me the strength to think and act as an individual. I don't feel the need to participate in something that I know is wrong. My decisions reflect my values and my morals. For example, I am extremely proud of my decision not to drink alcohol. I have been placed in several situations where alcohol has been offered to me, however, I have refused it every time. I see no reason to consume alcohol because I don't need it to have fun. Those who consume alcohol jeopardize their futures and their lives. I am proud that I have been a positive influence and a good role model to many of my friends whom had originally made the "wrong" decision about alcohol. I have seen many of them reverse their decisions, following my lead. Sometimes I felt isolated from everyone at parties, but I refused to let it change my decision. I believe in standing by my decisions regardless of others trying to pressure me. It is now at the point where my 'Friends' don't even bother offering alcohol to me. I now realize that my older sister was also a positive role model who faced the same pressures I did, making the same decisions I have made. Our values, morals, and independent thinking are a direct result of the way we were raised (by our single mother).

I thought my parents' divorce was going to be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Ironically, it turned out to be the best. I wasn't willing to let it ruin my life without putting up a fight, and neither was my family. My parents are happily remarried and have allowed me to maintain a loving relationship with both families. A step-dad, a step-mom, two step-brothers, a step-sister, and a new baby half-brother have all brought happiness into my life. I continue to stay close with my father, even though he lives three thousand miles away. If this divorce had not occurred, then I might not have developed the positive qualities which contribute to the person who I am today. At age seven, I struggled with the confusion and pain of coping with my parents' divorce. Today, at age sixteen, I understand that obstacles can result in opportunity and success. I learned that hard work, determination, and self-discipline can turn your worst time into your best time.

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