It’s inevitable that this thought passes through your head when you’ve tried to make things work with your partner, reaching the very difficult realization that you may need a divorce.
“But, what about the kids?” This is a question that certainly worries many couples who find that this is the way they’d like to proceed. We’ve all heard terrible stories about the great impact a divorce can have on kids.
Should We Stay Together?
It depends! Generally, children are better off when raised in an “intact” household. However, there are exceptions. If the household has physical and emotional abuse, then staying will result in more harm than good. But marriages have issues, and most can be resolved if parents are willing to cooperate. If there is hope for salvaging a marriage, such changes should be explored. This can include anything from seeing a marriage counselor to purposing to put the children first.
However, if nothing works, separation can be the better option. While divorce is generally harmful to kids, it can be beneficial when it is the only option and parents purpose to put their kids first. Parents are advised to seek help from marriage counselors, divorce attorneys, family, and within themselves to ensure they make the best decision possible.
People associate divorce directly with children being affected. Yes, having two different households and not being able to see both parents together does have its toll on kids. But psychological studies show that what affects them the most is witnessing too much conflict and having the stress of living under it.
So, if you are living in constant conflict and stress and are unhappy in your relationship, divorce is an option you could contemplate.
According to Psychology Today:
In the long term, however, divorce can lead to happier outcomes for children. When parents are arguing or incompatible in a deep and lasting way, divorce can be a relief for children, a chance to breathe healthier air, free of the tensions of an unhappy relationship. When changes in family structure are handled well, children experience a temporary disruption but can achieve long-term resiliency and strength.
Children can be very resilient. Even if they struggle with changes in living arrangements, setting up how their calendars will be working, etc, they will slowly, but steadily start healing.
What Problems Do Children Experience When Their Parents Split Up?
Children can go through very different emotions when they find out their parents will be separating, some of them include:
- Distress, anger, anxiety, and disbelief.
- Fear, neediness, regression.
- A sense of guilt and/or blame.
- Academic problems.
- Disruptive behaviors.
- Substance use.
- Emotional problems.
- Risk-taking behavior.
Factors That Lower The Impact Of Divorce
Donna, Matthews, P.h.D., says children will bounce back and will not show any of those academic, behavioral, or psychological problems. If they feel that at least one parent
- Ensures the children feel safe and secure.
- Is warm, affectionate, and open with the children.
- Respect and speaks well of the other parent.
- Co-operates with the other parent about matters that involve the children.
- Facilitates ongoing, regular, and dependable contact with the other parent.
- Has clear and reasonable expectations of the children.
- Provides close but respectful monitoring.
- Supports empowerment and autonomy.
- Teaches good problem-solving and coping skills.
- Maintains a network of social support with extended family, neighbors, and community.
- Seeks professional help for self or children as needed.
In the end, only you and your spouse can decide what is better for the kids, always keeping their best interests in mind. Ask yourselves if your children can have a better environment if you stay together or if you are apart. Divorce might even make you become a better parent.
The question of staying together for your kids’ sake depends largely on the circumstances. There’s no clear answer. Generally, it is advisable to act in the best interests of your children first before considering anything else. Assuming you are both unhappy, would your kids benefit from being raised in an unhappy household? Let’s get into more detail about some of the risks associated with staying.
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Risks Of Staying Together
A notable long-term effect of staying, especially when the circumstances aren’t conducive, is children are bound to learn bad parenting that is carried on in the future. The pain, frustration, and anger can be carried on for generations. Children don’t respond well to parents who are in constant conflict or contradict each other’s decisions.
Neglect is another potential impact of staying in an unhealthy environment. Kids who find themselves in a hostile environment may feel neglected as their parents focus on their issues. Neglect can be physical and emotional. A child who is physically neglected may not be eating balanced meals which can impact their physical health.
Emotional neglect can result when parents don’t get together for critical events that matter to the child. Parents who also try to alienate each other i.e., make visitation impossible, also inflict emotional neglect. If staying is characterized by constant conflict, emotional neglect, or physical neglect, then parents are better off apart.
Value Of Staying
There is general consensus based on many research studies that children are better off in an intact family. This may be true even if parents aren’t in love. Provided parents remain civil and committed to working together as parents, there may be value in staying. If parents are able to keep their sadness and loneliness in check, ensuring they don’t expose their kids to fights, then it can be beneficial to co-parent under one roof.
Some research studies suggest that the emotional effects of divorce are so dire on children (especially those growing into adulthood) that parents should purpose to do whatever is possible for their children’s sake. There are many experts that feel marriage held together for the sake of children is way better than the “best divorce”.
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Deciding Whether To Stay Together Or Part Ways
Given the risks and possible benefits of staying, how do you decide? Well, several factors can guide you accordingly. The most important include;
The Presence Or Absence Of Abuse
Parenting experts agree that children shouldn’t be kept in family situations that involve any form of abuse, from physical to sexual and emotional abuse. While abusive behavior can be corrected or changed, such occurrences are rare.
An abusive parent may get help, change abusive patterns, and become a better parent. However, separation is usually encouraged in most cases when behavior doesn’t change. Children should be protected from abusive parents until they reform.
Is Cooperation Possible?
Staying together is also an option when parents are able to put their differences together for their children’s sake. Can both parents agree on critical issues for the good of their kids, or are they willing to “punish” each other for past mistakes even when doing so may affect the kids negatively? Cooperation is a critical prerequisite for staying together. If absent, divorce is a better option.
Can The Marriage Be Salvaged?
Staying together will also depend on the possibility of salvaging a marriage. While marriages have ups and downs, couples that are willing to work together can always avoid separation or divorce. Depending on the situation, some marriages can be irreparable.
For instance, are you planning to leave before you see a family therapist or seek help from many other quotas like your family members or couples who have gone through similar problems?
Issues such as marital infidelity or abuse that hasn’t stopped can make it harder to stay together. Considering marriage is built on trust, there must be a conscious effort to work on the issues. Before divorce and the extreme stress involved, couples must purpose to do all they can. Every possible option must be explored. There should be a genuine effort to rebuild the marriage for the sake of the kids. Separation should be the last resort after tireless efforts to rebuild bonds. However, the willingness to work on things should be shared.
Nevertheless, if that willingness is absent, divorce should be viewed as a better option considering there is research showing that co-parenting can go well and result in happier and better kids. Separation can be a great thing. The challenge is usually in ensuring both parents purpose to work together even after divorce for the benefit of their children. An attitude of commitment to ensure the divorce is painless will result in very few negative consequences on children’s psychological well-being.
What Does The Law Say?
The typical grounds for divorcing in Alabama include cruelty, adultery, incurable insanity, and commission of crimes against nature alongside irretrievable breakdown. Even in the best-case scenarios, the law acknowledges that divorcing is a legal and emotional challenge.
Before you decide to stay for the sake of the kids, it’s advisable to get counsel from a seasoned Alabama divorce attorney to understand the process and work on finding the best outcome possible.
It’s not an easy process, but with the right family law attorney, you can leverage the ways that debt in divorce is treated and come through the experience more financially prepared. Talk to a professional in The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates by calling us at (256) 769-0508 or contacting us through our contact form
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