P!nk's "Family Portrait" Rings Somber Honesty for Broken Homes

by KaitlynDeMetro

"Family Portrait" paints a haunting and honest picture of what it's really like being stuck in the devastating breakdown of a broken home.

P!nk may be a multimillionaire and a Grammy winning artist but like most of us, her success rose from the ashes of a broken home. She was just a child when her parents split but she carried the pain of their divorce into adulthood; something a lot of us do but rarely talk about. Her song "Family Portrait" is the only song out there that truly encapsulates what it's like for children of divorce in the initial break up of their family, and the pain that echos in their hearts as they grow.

An Unfortunate Timeless Tune









13 years is plenty long enough for a song to go out of style. Unfortunately, that's not the case with P!nk's 2001 single, "Family Portrait." The divorce rate has sky rocketed over the last 50 years and in more recent years, those statistics continue to grow. 50% of marriages end in divorce. That means that half of the kids and teenagers in this nation end their day by going home to either their mother or father, but never both. Half of the adults in the US are bringing their childhood pain into new relationships, worrying more than anyone if their own marriages are doomed to fail, and still splitting time between two different homes when it comes to family holidays. For parents, divorce ends with signing a paper. For their children, no matter the age, divorce never really ends. For this, "Family Portrait" speaks a timeless tale that doesn't seem to be ending soon.

Did you come from a broken home?

Are you divorced?

A Personal Connection

I remember listening to this song on P!nk's album "M!ssundaztood" in 2001. I remember listening to it on a big grey CD player while watching the sunlight come through the blinds in the early evening, casting yellow shadows the blue walls of my bedroom. I liked this song because of the beat and of course P!nk's gorgeous vocals. What I didn't know was just how much this song would mean to me in years to come.

First I would like to point out that while it would be beneficial to this piece, I'm not going to go into much detail regarding my parents divorce simply because it's not just my story to tell, its my story and my parents' story and my sister's story. I also don't want to upset anyone in my family. That said, here is an idea of what I went through...

I was 17 when my parents divorced in 2009. It feels like a lifetime ago with how much everything has changed. I'm okay with it now but I had to go through the 5 stages of grief, just as millions of other people do when experiencing divorce as a loss. For me there was a mix of denial, a lot of anger, bargaining, a deep depression, and eventual acceptance. In the beginning, the denial I felt was very childlike. I had this wishful thinking that maybe if I prayed hard enough, everything would go back to the way it was. My dad moved out and my mom, understandably going through her own difficult time, wanted to change everything in the house; she wanted to rearrange furniture and buy new plates, etc. I was angry at her doing this because it interfered with my wishful thinking. I thought if too much had changed, it would be too difficult for the universe to reverse it. We needed to keep everything the same so all the universe had to do was go back just enough to when my parents were together. It sounds crazy I know but that's how I felt.

This was especially difficult for me because I didn't understand why it was so hard on me. I tried to look up what I was going through and everything I found about "children of divorce" was about just that; children. That wasn't very helpful because no matter our age, we are always our parent's children. I discovered that adult children of divorce feel the same loss as young children feel. It's becoming more and more frequent that parents will stay together for their children and divorce when they are grown, which was the case with my parents. I was at the cusp of adulthood and felt like I had just been knocked down because I was suddenly feeling this hurt and this loss at the core of my family unit.

Broken Home Anthem; The Lyrics of "Family Portrait" by P!nk

Momma please stop cryin, I can't stand the sound
Your pain is painful and its tearin' me down
I hear glasses breakin as I sit up in my bed
I told dad you didn't mean those nasty things you said

You fight about money, bout me and my brother
And this I come home to, this is my shelter
It ain't easy growin up in World War III
Never knowin what love could be, you'll see
I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family

Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Mommy I'll do anything
Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Daddy please don't leave

Daddy please stop yellin, I can't stand the sound
Make mama stop cryin, cuz I need you around
My mama she loves you, no matter what she says its true
I know that she hurts you, but remember I love you too

I ran away today, ran from the noise, ran away
Don't wanna go back to that place, but don't have
no choice, no way
It ain't easy growin up in World War III
Never knowin what love could be, well I've seen
I don't want love to destroy me like it did my family

Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Mommy I'll do anything
Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Daddy please don't leave

In our family portrait, we look pretty happy
Let's play pretend, let's act like it comes naturally
I don't wanna have to split the holidays
I don't want two addresses
I don't want a step-brother anyways
And I don't want my mom to have to change her last name

In our family portrait we look pretty happy
We look pretty normal, let's go back to that
In our family portrait we look pretty happy
Let's play pretend, act like it goes naturally

A Voice to the Voiceless

P!nk gave a voice to the voiceless with her song. For whatever reasons that divorce happens, it's always by choice of the parents, not their kids. There is such a sense of having no control, you just want one person to truly get what you are experiencing and that's what P!nk gave us.

The strongest lyrics of her song:

"It ain't easy growin up in World War III
Never knowin what love could be, you'll see
I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family"

These words ring such a loud and awful truth: growing up in a bad marriage, you don't see how love is supposed to be. "Never knowing what love could be." Personally, my parents never showed affection. Even at 17 years old, I found it odd to see couples my parents age hold hands or kiss or even say "I love you." Seeing married couples show affection was foreign to me.

"I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family." Then there's the thought that this all started with love; your parents were in love when they got married but ended up in a bitter, hateful divorce. Does this mean that even if you fall in a deep love, you will also end up in divorce?

Children of divorce, whether it be adult children, teen children, or young children, go through an extremely hard time when their parents split up. P!nk gave us an anthem- one song that we could hold onto that speaks to us and reaches us on the most personal level. It's about what you feel when your family breaks up and the longing for it to go back to the way it was- back when you took that family portrait.

"Family Portrait" by P!nk

Updated: 09/24/2014, KaitlynDeMetro
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Telesto on 10/01/2014

You are absolutely right Kait. I know it's hard, but parents really shouldn't disrespect each other in front of their children.

KaitlynDeMetro on 09/30/2014

It really is painful and that's why I wanted to write this- it's not for me but to remind our culture that even though divorce is all around us, yes it makes us kind of numb to hearing about it, but it doesn't make children numb to going through it. And afterwords too, bashing the other parent in front of your kid- even if its just rolling your eyes when his/her name is mentioned, that's hard on your kid because that's the other half of them. Before I went through this and looked up what I was going through, I didn't know that there was grieving in divorce but there really is and it's a strong grief.

Mira on 09/30/2014

Hi Kait, this made me sad too. It was well-written and you put a lot of heart into it. It's such a painful experience, what you describe here.

KaitlynDeMetro on 09/25/2014

Oh, I see. I completely understand. I would really like to share my experience going through my parents divorce but it's a difficult subject for me to write about.

Telesto on 09/25/2014

I know you are right but it's a really (for me) upsetting subject. I don't think that should let it stop me though. I know so many people who are from single parent families for a whole host of reasons. I'm going to start working on it. Thank you :-)

KaitlynDeMetro on 09/25/2014

You definitely should. I like reading whatever I can about family stuff, especially when it comes to psychology/sociology. It helps us better understand ourselves and other people. I think a lot of people would be interested.

Telesto on 09/25/2014

Thanks Kait, maybe I will...

KaitlynDeMetro on 09/25/2014

I've never heard that term before. If you haven't written articles about it here, you should. I'm sure it would get a lot of attention.

Telesto on 09/25/2014

I know you're right, just thinking about experiences in my family. I've just written a couple of posts about it for a website (not sure whether I'll get the byliine!), parental alienation syndrome. You shouldn't worry about my feeling sad, but you're absolutely right, it is good when people respond to your writing with emotion. Thanks Kait.

KaitlynDeMetro on 09/25/2014

I don't mean to make you sad but I'm happy that you did respond with an emotion. I feel like divorced families are so common now that when you hear it, it doesn't come off as something very sad or even scandalous, as it did several decades ago. It's become so common that it's a pretty casual topic, instead of one that used to be considered sad or taboo.

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