My parents are divorced.

Usually when I tell people this, they break eye contact and sigh before uttering, “oh” as if this newly shared information is entirely negative and somehow reflects my past experiences, current relationships and future decisions.

This common reaction used to cause me to simply ignore the topic altogether. Now that I am an adult, married and with two children of my own, I have a new perspective and am thankful for my parents and their endless love; but more for their ability to make a decision that has changed my life for the better.

When my parents got divorced, I was a freshman in high school and it wasn’t always fun or exciting. There was confusion, misunderstandings and sadness caused from the new changes. But, there is something that has never changed since that day – their commitment to our family and their four children.

Since the divorce, there have been weddings, break ups, grandchildren, deaths and celebrations; and both of my parents have both been a major part of all of them. They don’t sit at opposite ends of a room; talk negatively about one another; or require their children and grandchildren to make entirely separate plans during birthdays and holidays to appease them. Instead, they respect each other, their role in our lives and are supportive and encouraging.

Last year, my family scheduled a unique spring weekend getaway which might be unheard of in other families. We spent a weekend – my mother, father and their significant others included – all spending two nights in one remote cabin. Together, we played games, cooked meals and enjoyed each other’s company. Unique, yes. But also admirable.

My parents were both raised with parents who were not divorced. They were not thinking about divorce on their wedding day or five years into their marriage.  But sometimes, things change. And, as difficult as their decision might have been, their choice to modify rather than terminate their relationship has and continues to make me a better mother, spouse and person.

And for this, I am thankful.