Sometimes, life just doesn’t go the way you plan it to. You meet someone, fall in love, get married, and have kids. But then your marriage starts crumbling, and before you know it, you are looking at the possibility of divorce.
But how can you get divorced when you have children to think about? You should stay together because that is best for the kids, correct?
Well, the answer to that question is not just black or white. There is a lot to consider. In years past, the general consensus was usually that you should try to stay together for the kids. But today, we are finding that this choice may not be the best thing for your children. It is true that kids will emotionally suffer after a divorce. But most of the time, children become very well-adjusted to the separation of their parents, and they actually turn out better because of it.
In this article, we are going to look at the benefits and downsides of staying together for the kids. If you are facing this decision in your life, keep reading, and you will see why staying together for the kids might not be the best thing for your children.
Are You Heading toward Divorce?
Chances are that if you are reading this article, there is turmoil in your marriage. It is a hard thing to going through, and even harder if you have children who want their parents to stay together. While it might seem like you need to figure out how to make things work for your children, you could end up doing irreparable damage to your kids by staying with someone you no longer get along with.
There are some signs that can help you determine if it is time to end your relationship. Your children will show signs that will let you know if they are suffering from the tension and fighting in the home. There are also questions that you can ask yourself, which will help you know if it is time to look at divorce or separation.
In the following section, we will discuss the things that you should look for.
Signs from Your Children That It Is Time for a Divorce
Children of all ages can be pretty intuitive. Even in households where the parents think they are keeping the kids protected from the discord between them, the kids usually know that something is not quite right. In many homes, the arguing and turmoil take place right in front of the kids.
When children live in that kind of tense environment, they often start showing signs that they are being affected by the fighting. Behavioral changes could be an indication that your kids are emotionally suffering.
Here are some behavioral changes to look for:
- Mood or Attitude Changes – Children who sense that there is something wrong with their parents often experience anxiety or depression. If your child seems unhappy or uninterested in things that he or she used to be involved with, this change could be due to discord in your marriage.
- Getting into Trouble – Children living in homes where parents are unhappy are much more likely to start acting out and getting in trouble. Parents sometimes get so wrapped up in their marital problems that their kids start feeling overlooked. So they start doing things to get attention, even if the attention is bad.
- Academics Start to Suffer – Grades start slipping. You might get notifications from the school that your child is not turning in his or her homework. You children may stop participating in class, start skipping practices or even skip school altogether. If your kids’ academics start suffering, it is time to think about moving on, so they can move on, too.
- Withdrawing – Your child may start withdrawing from you or from friendships. If your kids are spending all of their time in their rooms or avoiding getting together with their friends, you need to consider what the turmoil in your home is doing to your child.
Behavioral changes like these can mean that your child is dealing with a lot because of your marital problems. The longer your problems persist and cause tension in the household, the longer your child will have to suffer. The best way to relieve the tension and suffering of your child may very well be to separate and divorce.
Signs from Yourself That It Is Time to Divorce
Sometimes, it is hard to know what the best decision is, especially when you are talking about your marriage. When you get married, the idea is that it is forever. So no matter what comes along, you and your partner should be able to get through it together.
However, the reality is that no one knows what the future holds, so you cannot predict everything that life has in store for you.
As humans, we are very dynamic beings, who are capable of much more than we think. But we may also be incapable of coping with some of the things that our partners present to us. In any case, you should consider some things about yourself that will help you know whether you should be moving toward a divorce. Your emotional state plays a huge role in how you function from day to day.
Pay close attention to how your emotional state is affecting these areas:
- Parenting Abilities – Are you able to effectively parent your children? Are you still engaging your children in the way you used to? Do you still tend to your kids’ needs the way that you did before your marriage started falling apart? If you answered no to these questions, you should strongly consider getting out of the relationship.
- Preference for Being Alone – Since being around your spouse has become stressful and unbearable, you would rather just be alone. These feelings are indications that there may not be anything left to salvage, so divorce should provide a healthier emotional future.
- Difficulty Functioning – You do not want to get out of bed and start your day. It is hard to focus and accomplish anything. Overall, the discord in your marriage is affecting the way you live. When your relationship issues are debilitating, you should consider ending it.
When your emotional state is suffering due to turmoil, it can throw your judgment off. And poor judgment can cause your children to see or hear things that they should not be exposed to, such as arguments or even abuse.
This kind of exposure is detrimental to children’s mental, emotional, and physical health. In most of the cases, divorce would alleviate all or some of this stress.
What Positives Are Involved with Staying Together for the Kids?
If you are not seeing the more severe signs listed above, there are certainly some positives to staying together for the kids, which are important to consider. The first is the family unit. An intact family unit can promote safety and security in children. And it shows kids that their parents are resilient and resourceful.
Research has shown that staying together for the kids can prevent some bad things from happening to children. For instance, there are statistics that show that divorce can increase the risk of:
- Academic failure
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Earlier and more frequent sexual activity
- Illness and longer recovery times
- Psychological distress
- Criminal activity
While these factors should all be considered, they do not necessarily mean that you should decide to stay together for the sake of your children. You can take steps to ensure that you are addressing these possible factors. Then your children will not fall victim to suffering, and they will not contribute to the statistics above.
What Negatives Are Involved in Staying Together for The Kids?
Staying together for the kids can cause distress that will follow them into their adult lives. If kids live in households where parents stay together despite not wanting to be together anymore, they live with their parents’ tension every day, which can prevent them from being able to relax.
It also makes these children see their parents in unhappy states all of the time. The children are often exposed to abuse between the parents, or they suffer abuse themselves because a parent takes out their unhappiness on them. In some cases, all of the household members may be victims of abuse. Stress and tension cause behaviors in people that are extremely unhealthy and unacceptable.
Another negative outcome of staying together for the kids is that the children learn to settle for less. They see parents who t accept their unhappiness, trudge through their lives anyway, and settle for the misery they live in.
So kids living this way never get to see what a healthy, loving relationship looks like. Therefore, they end up in an unhappy relationship in the future.
In other words, your kids will grow up thinking that it is ok to accept less than what they deserve because that is what their parents modeled for them.
What Can Children Gain from Divorce?
So the question becomes: What can children gain from divorce if anything? They can actually gain a lot. If the parents are happy, the children are more likely to be happy as well.
For instance, kids can gain:
- Relaxation and relief from tension
- Full parenting from both parents, rather than one or the other. (Usually, married parents do not equally share parenting roles. One will be the caregiver the majority of the time, while the other is more of the “backseat parent.”)
- Learning that it is not ok to be in an unsatisfying, unhappy relationship.
- Seeing that happiness can sometimes emerge from hard decisions, either when the parent is single or when he or she finds someone new.
Divorce may seem like a bad thing for your kids, but the truth is that it may actually teach them a lot that will help them throughout their adult lives.
The title of this article is “To Stay or Not to Stay.” While we cannot answer that question for you, our hope is that we helped you find a little more comfort during some tough decision-making.
Staying together for the kids is not as positive of an idea as it used to be. Getting out of a tumultuous relationship can do a lot of good for your children, even if the process is hard on them at first. In many cases, staying together can do much more harm than good.
By divorcing and moving on, you will be teaching your kids that healthy relationships are important. And you will provide your kids with relief from the tension in your home and start moving them toward happiness again.
Kids want to be happy, and they are resilient. So as long as you work with them to address their feelings and emotional health, the whole family should be able to emerge in a better place. Whichever route you decide to take, it will not be easy. But with careful consideration, you will make the best decision for you and your kids.