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Anonymous
Anonymous asks:
Q:

Which do you think is worse for the child: divorce or parents unhappily married?

My parents divorced when I was 11 after having very dramatic fights throughout their marriage. In addition to the constant turmoil this created for daily life, I was also totally embarrassed when they fought: neighbors would hear them cursing at each other; people (including relatives) would talk about their bad behavior; the house would go up for sale, off the market, up for sale, off the market - depending on if they were fighting or not. I was very relieved when they finally decided to divorce, but my younger brother was very disturbed by their final decision. Now, in his marriage, I don't think he would even consider divorce as an option until the kids are out of the house. I doubt he would engage in or allow the constant bickering or dramatic fights that our parents had, but I do think he would rather be quietly or secretly unhappy than put his kids through a divorce.

Is staying married despite being unhappy the right or best approach for the kids? Which is better: getting divorced, or pretending to be happy while the kids are in the house and then divorcing when they're adults? Any expert or scientific evidence for either approach over the other?

  
In Topics: My child's growth and development, Parenting / Our Family
> 60 days ago

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Expert

MomSOS
Mar 7, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

There is controversy about this question, and various experts have studied it and have provided research "evidence" to support their positions.
As a Social Worker working with single parents and children of families with both parents and one parent, I have observed that there are several common denominators that determine how well children will fare in either circumstance.

You mention that your parents fights created "constant turmoil" for daily life.
You experienced relief and your brother was "disturbed" by your parents decision to divorce. Every child handles stress differently, depending on their own emotional make up and how they understand the meaning of the fights and/or a separation. A very important common denominator for predicating how a child will cope with either divorce or ongoing marital conflict is the extent to which the child is exposed to the conflict or the stress in either situation.  

How the parents handle their discord is a critical common denominator. If they fight in front of the children, or air their frustrations to their children, bad mouth the other parent, or use the children as substitutes for adult support, the outcome for the children will be less favorable regardless of the status of the couple.

Neither ongoing marital conflict or separation/divorce is ideal. Regardless of marital status, children need stability and predictability to feel safe and secure.

Here are a few tips for handling strife of unhappy marriage or divorce.

1. Keep the kids out of the middle.
2. Expose the children to as little conflict as possible.
3. If children overhear fighting, explain to them that this is adult business and the adults will take care of it.
4. Refrain from putting the other parent down.
5. Keep the children's routines stable.  Do not let conflict unsettle the children's usual patterns.
6. Make sure the children's needs are met, even when you as the parent want to pull the covers over your head and stop functioning.
7. If parents cannot meet these guidelines, seek professional help for yourselves and your children.

Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW
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Additional Answers (4)

MaLJohnson
MaLJohnson , Parent writes:
I THINK DIVORCED CUZ BELIVE OR NOT THE KIDS HITE BEING AROUND ALL THE FIGHTING MY OLDER KIDS SEEN IT ALL AND NOW THEY DIDNT CAME 2 SEE ME TILL THERE DAD WAS OUT AND GONE SO YES DIVORCED
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
The source of unhappiness can be ironically at times "ourselves". I first want you to know that I had a very rocky time with my husband about three years ago. There are times in a marriage where people are unhappy with themselves and they simply blame it on their spouse. Another problem could be that both parties are holding too much resentment towards one another. The question is can this resentment be truly resolved? The answer is it can! This will sound crazy to you, but for years I had not been to confession ( yes, we are a Catholic family). In other words, I had not faced myself or my own demons. And because of this, I would hold resentment and blame husband for things that were really my own doing. This would ignite into fights and resentment was starting to show its ugly head. And this is a cycle... It keeps on going until there is a peace making with one's self.
So my advice, although not expert, would suggest your brother find a good counselor. It could be someone religious or not. However, I would prefer it be a spiritual advisor. And help him work on himself and figure out what is going on with him. Next, I would have the wife do the same. God wants married people to stay together. He has blessed that family with children. No marriage is perfect and it takes work at times (more so than others) but what we have to do in times of trial is return back to our spiritual maker. Ultimately, He is the only resolve for this problem. Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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MillsMomma0708
MillsMomma0... , Parent writes:
Being as that I am going through a similar situation myself at the moment, I felt compelled to answer this question. At the moment,  my husband and I are going to do a trial separation. I came to the decision to separate because I don't think that it is healthy for my children to be surrounded by the negative energy in our relationship right now. On occasion, we have fought in front of them - a mistake that I am saddened by every day. But even during the moments of our private fights and arguments, there is a build up of spite and resentment that does not always stay within the confines of the arguement. Sometimes, even after talking about it, it festers and spills over on the people who are the most vulnerable and helpless. I find myself upset over one situation or another and then, at the tiniest noise or mistake, I blow up on the kids. I have had to apologize many times to my children for my lack of discretion and control. It is not a situation they deserve to be in and I will not keep them in it any longer than necessary. To that end, we agreed that for no other reasons than to give the children a happy, healthy environment to live in and to decide if this is really where we want our lives to be, we would separate and re-evaluate our realtionship. We both come from broken homes and we both know what it is to be without one or both parents, but we have made the decision that no matter what the outcome, our children will never feel unloved or unwanted as we did. Even in the midst of a divorce, we can both still be parents for them and support and love them.

But at this point, we have to do what is best for our children, and that means doing what is best for us. We cannot be the mother and father that they need us to be if we are miserable and irritable with one another all the time.
> 60 days ago

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shalena15
shalena15 writes:
No it would be better to get out of the relatoinship. and try to make a better one for the child. it may be hard at first but the child will ajust soon enough.
> 60 days ago

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