You know that oft-cited "stat" about how half of marriages end in divorce, and it's only getting worse?
Well here's the good news: It's not totally true! Divorce rates are actually falling among younger generations in the United States for a number of reasons, including people waiting a little longer until they're sure they want to tie the knot.
Now here's the bad news: The divorce rate is still somewhere between a half and a third, which means — when kids are involved — there are still an awful lot of "blended families" out there.
We tend to think of a divorce as an emotional process filled with rage and resentment, but it's not always that simple. Most parents would agree that they want to do whatever is best for their children. And in a lot of cases when divorce is involved, that means continuing to work together with their ex-partner, even once the marriage itself is over.
Easy? Definitely not. Impossible? Not necessarily.
Mom Hayley Booth recently shared her own blended family story on Facebook and introduced the name she uses for her ex's new wife, Dakota: She's her daughter's "bonus mommy."
Booth's photo, which shows the two women walking their daughter down the hall on her first day of school, makes it clear that the exes and new partners in this family get along.
But how do they do it?
"My answer is always the same — We just love our daughter," she writes. "Seriously, it's just that simple."
During Booth's divorce, "It was hard to see past [the anger]," she explains in a Facebook message.
With time and communication, however, came healing.
"Believe it or not, we talked through our problems. We did what adults are supposed to do," she says. "[I realized Dakota] wasn't trying to replace me at all. She was just trying to love my little girl the best she could. And that helped me see past all of it."
Most research shows that divorce doesn't necessarily mean poor long-term outcomes for kids, but that doesn't mean it doesn't take hard work and a lot of love from everyone involved to make that a reality.
The whole blended family. Photo by Stardust Studio, used with permission.
Booth says thousands of parents have written to her since her story went viral, some applauding her for sharing, others desperate for advice on how to make their own complicated arrangement work. She admits that it can't always work, that sometimes there might be too much pain to overcome.
She hopes her story and her friendship with her daughter's Bonus Mommy can help some people in their own lives.
"I really hope it's reaching the right people," she says.