by Mary M. Swann, Associate Director, Kids First Center
If you are divorced, or a child of divorce, I strongly recommend that you see the movie “Boyhood.” A beautiful coming-of-age film charting a young boy’s life from first grade to college, this movie – which won three Golden Globe awards Sunday, including best drama – tackles some of life’s heaviest issues in a refreshingly matter-of-fact style that will leave you breathing a sigh of relief.
Why? It isn’t about how to do divorce right, or how to do it wrong. Without preaching, it simply treats divorce as a life event – one of the many events that can happen in the course of an average boy’s life – and, though it’s a powerful factor, he’s not defined by this fact alone.
Having worked for over 15 years at the Kids First Center, a Portland agency dedicated to supporting families through the painful transition of separation and divorce, I have come to appreciate the complexities of the particular brand of hurt that parents and their children experience when trusted relationships end and a household separates. I’m forever on the alert for sensitive, realistic portrayals of this all-too-common and oh-so-gut-wrenching life passage. And that’s what this film delivers.
Like so many of us, this boy has imperfect parents. Dad disappears. Mom chooses bad boyfriends. Dad is unreliable. Mom marries alcoholics. Dad starts a new family. Mom is distracted.
The kids are no picnic, either. Daughter has an “[expletive] attitude,” in Mom’s words; son experiments with drugs and alcohol.
These are the very scenarios we hear in our phone calls, classrooms and kids support groups every day at Kids First, because this is reality. We are an imperfect species, and we all make mistakes.