• Erica Shelton

How Having Divorced Parents Made Me a Better BusinessWoman



Like many people I know, I am a child of divorced parents. It is not a big deal - it is not tragic. My parents weren’t meant to be, but they were meant to have me.


Having divorced parents has made me an extremely adaptable businesswoman.

Growing up, my parents were two states apart. Every month and a half from age 6 to 17, I was going back-and-forth on a plane by myself, visiting my parents. This expedited my emotional growth as I was forced into independence very early. My mother is extremely Type-A and detail oriented. She’s good with facts and figures as well as pitching the data she finds. At her house, I helped her with organizing files, dates, and documents of importance. My father is big picture and an extroverted public speaker. He had me join Toastmasters at 13 as well as adding “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” to my reading list.


With the equal time spent in both environments, I gained both skill sets. Visiting my parents one-on-one enhanced my relationship with them on individual basis. I was able to learn from my mom without interruption from my dad and vice-versa, giving me a better understanding of both as a parent and a person.


Traveling between the two environments, I had to constantly make new friends, establish my grounds, my likes, and my interests. Once I got settled, before I knew it, I was on a plane again going somewhere different. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that custody arrangement ended up providing me with valuable maturation.


In my tender 23 years on this planet, I have witnessed a terrorist attack that changed our country forever and a recession that took everything away from not only my parents but all my friends’ parents. I’ve escaped two public shootings, one being the biggest in our history. And now as I am one year away from finalizing my hospitality degree, the world has been affected by a pandemic which has halted the hospitality and travel industry for the first time in its history.


No matter, I have learned the best thing to do is perceive, adapt, and overcome. The species that last the longest is not the most beautiful nor the most intelligent. It is the species that is most responsive to change. Growing up in an unstable world and inconsistent environment has taught me how to balance life’s tightrope when it feels like a string of floss. Tough times never last, tough people do.


Now as a legal recruiter and a marketing director I am constantly in discussions with managing partners, shareholders, and attorneys. My industry is consistently changing due to virtual platforms and ever-changing trends. I started this profession at 19, and with my upbringing, it came natural for me to understand that it was essential to learn how to work with people who don’t think like me. Some candidates gave me way too much information, while others barely talked. I’ve had clients be the complete opposite of my political beliefs that I’ve brought in and clients on the same page as me about everything, that I’ve had to turn away.


The key is adapting to the people in the environment in which you are put. We have all been dealt cards that we can’t do anything about, but merely expand on the opportunities we are given. There is value in everything, even suffering, even trauma, and even situations that feel like they are just meant to hurt you.


When I was younger, I did not fully understand why there was so much inconsistency in my life. I knew I loved my parents, and I knew they loved me. My family is the support system I was born with. This culture encourages us to be kicked to the curb at 18, but our parents are our most valuable resources that we should cherish for as long as we can.


The best leaders are not the ones who are the strongest, or the most ambitious. The greatest leaders are wise and know when to seek counsel. A group of people will always be smarter than just one person. My parents have lived so much life before me, but I have only lived my life with my parents. I plan to maximize the opportunity and advantage for as long as I can.


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