In America, there is approximately one divorce every 36 seconds. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week, and 876,000 divorces a year. However, this case isn’t like most divorce cases. Not only does this ex-couple remain on good terms with one another, but they still get together to take family portraits every year with their young son, Bruce Dyson.
Victoria Baldwin and Adam Dyson got divorced shortly after Bruce turned two. She wrote a message on the Love What Matters Facebook page that has since gone viral, expressing her feelings about the unique situation.
“We are not in love, we don’t always agree, we’re not best friends, sometimes we don’t even like one another. But you know what we are? We are forever connected because of our beautiful, smart, kind, compassionate, funny son,” she wrote.
Baldwin admits that she and her ex-husband weren’t always this amicable with each other after their separation. But she quickly discovered that the tension between the two of them was hurting their son more than she initially realized, and that’s when she decided to make a change.
“We had a heated discussion in front of our son, who sat crying at my feet,” she recalls. “And I realized the next day I was more focused on hurting his dad than I was on comforting Bruce crying. I knew that wasn’t the example I wanted to set.”
After that unfortunate incident, Baldwin booked a photo session for herself and Bruce and asked Adam if he would like to join. He agreed, and the couple had their individual portraits with their son as well. Now, yearly photo sessions have become a much-anticipated tradition in the family.
Perhaps Baldwin’s passion for maintaining a positive outlook on her family life stemmed from her own upbringing. Although divorce and marriage rates are changing, roughly 42% of U.S. marriages end in divorce, and her own parents got divorced before she turned two. She says she doesn’t have a single photograph of the three of them together as a family, and she doesn’t want her son to suffer the same fate.
While some people expressed concern about the ex-couple “giving false hopes” to their son, Baldwin doesn’t see it that way. Up to 67% of America’s teens say they actually want to spend more time with their parents, and it can be understandably difficult for children of divorce to spend substantial time with both of their parents, especially if there is a lot of lingering contempt.
As for the concerns raised about continuing the tradition when the ex-couple meet new people, Baldwin says that’s not a possibility.
“We both agree we’ll continue it,” Baldwin tells CBS News. “We think a step-parent or long-term partner would be welcomed and would be an addition to Bruce’s life. I have ended potential relationships because they questioned intentions or the quality of Adam and my relationship. We aren’t romantic, but we respect one another. I won’t be with someone who wouldn’t accept that.”
Ultimately, Baldwin is hoping to teach her son about what’s truly important. By making this photo shoot an annual tradition, Bruce’s parents are fostering in him a one-of-a-kind sense of appreciation and respect for his parents’ togetherness. About 79% of Americans believe that children learn in different ways, and it’s safe to say that Bruce is continuing to learn valuable life lessons in ways that never seemed possible.
“Adam and I are not perfect co-parents, but we made a deal when we got divorced, to put our son first and to value the richness that we each bring to his life, for different reasons,” she writes. “So yes, we still have a family portrait taken, and I still pay good money to have the images printed, framed, and placed in our son’s bedroom; he may not grow up with parents who live in the same house… but he will grow up to see respect, kindness, empathy, compassion, perseverance, flexibility, and even sacrifice being modeled by both of his parents and he will know it is possible to fall out of love but never fall apart.”