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does divorce really screw up kids?

post #1 of 160
Thread Starter 
Does divorce really screw up kids, or do they generally come out ok?

All opinions welcome; please just be respectful of others' opinions. Thanks!!

PS. My kids just turned 8 and 13, if that makes a difference.
post #2 of 160
Divorce does not screw up children, bad parenting screws up children. (Ok, that is overly simplistic and there are 3 million complicating factors there outside of parents but for the sake of this argument...)

To the degree that parents affect the 'outcome' of their children it doesn't (in my opinion and experience) matter that much if the parents are together or separate. If parents co-parent respectfully and work together for the benefit of their kids it is better to be divorced and happy than together and unhappy. However, that is providing that both parents can be grown ups and put the kids first.

Ok, there are tons of other factors that matter here... but I think that is the basic starting point.
post #3 of 160
It doesn't have to. I am a product of several divorces actually, and a really screwed up family (like Oprah worthy). I was a competitive, nationally ranked athlete, graduated with honors from high school and college, was an officer in the military, and am the sole income provider in my home, supporting my family rather well.

I'm very level-headed, I have no horrible "scars". I've been married to my husband (who, by the way, was my first boyfriend!) for 7.5 years.

I owe it all to my mom, who was a stern but loving parent with clear expectations my whole childhood. She was very involved in my life, always supported me, but was really strict and upfront also. Made it clear that I was expected to do well, regardless of anything going on in my life. And I did.

I'll gladly share more...but my husband is waiting
post #4 of 160
Well Dh's parents are divorced and I wouldn't say he is screwed up at all. I think his parents did a lot of stuff right when it came to their divorce. They never bad mouthed each other behind their backs. In fact I have never heard his mother say a bad thing about his father or the other way around. They also had joint custody, 4 days a week at mom's, and 3 days a week at dad's. His mother also married a wonderful man, who has been incredibly supportive of dh and his siblings. Was it hard on them? Of course. Divorce is hard and disruptive, but I don't think it results in screwed up kids.
post #5 of 160
It really does depend on the parents and the divorce.
post #6 of 160
It doesn't screw up kids any more than living in a home filled with arguments, tension and possibly worse.

It depends entirely on how the adults conduct themselves - married or divorced.

If it's an acrimonious divorce, then certainly that can be detrimental to children (if they hear their parents bad-mouthing each other, for instance, or are in the middle of an ugly custody battle). But it's also damaging for kids to live with two people who are married but acrimonious - bad-mouthing each other, seeing disrespectful or abusive behavior.

Some couples are able to be more friendly, or at least civil, once divorced. It can take a while, but divorce doesn't have to mean ugly scenes.
post #7 of 160
There are a lot of happy healthy adults whose parents divorced as children.

I'm not a therapist, nor do I have anything but my own personal experiences to go on, but I tend to think that children are better off in a happy household than a miserable one. If parents really cannot be happy together, if the kids are witness to unresolved arguments, bitterness, acrimony, and household tension, I tend to think they'd be better off if the parents separated, even if it was a tough adjustment at first. And if abuse of any type is involved, they are way better off if the parents divorce.

If the marriage is dull and unsatisfying for the parents, but they get along OK, I'm not sure which would be better for the kids .

I don't know how this applies to your situation, but it sounds like you're thinking contemplating a very difficult decision. s
post #8 of 160
I agree with the PPs - it depends on the parents and how they conduct themselves. My DH's parents divorced when he was about 9 and it drastically affected him and he still has a lot of pain about it. However, his parents bad-mouthed each other, continued to call each other and leave nasty messages, pulled the step-parents into it, and wouldn't be in the same room with each other for the rest of his childhood into adulthood until our wedding. It was miserable for him. My parents divorced when I was around 7 and even though it was hard for me to understand I really have no lingering issues about it. They never spoke an ill word towards one another. I think the parents' attitudes and dignity (or lack of it) is key.
post #9 of 160
Divorce is no more traumatizing then living in a house full of conflict, probably less so. A civil divorce, as civil as it can possibly be, is ideally the best. If one party is being hurtful about it, then there are certainly a lot of therapists who would be capable of helping your kids deal with the divorce and the coinciding fallout.
post #10 of 160
not mine.. they dont like their dad and things changed for the bettet since the split
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post #11 of 160
It depends on the kids and the divorce. My parents are split up. It didn't screw me up, as I was in my 20s. I wish they'd broken up a lot sooner...at least 10 years.

My decision to split up with my ex was the best thing that ever happened to ds1, imo. It just really all depends.
post #12 of 160
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
It just really all depends.
Yeah, I know. I just wanted opinions anyway.

I think dh was seriously screwed up by his parents' divorce, but I also know that his mother bad-mouthed his father a lot (and still does to this day.)
post #13 of 160
I agree with pp, it depends on how the parents handle it. I am a step mom of a 6 yo, and he's not screwed up. The mom can be a bit crazy at time, but dh is very level headed and does not 'play her game'.... But they have been divorced since dss was 9 mo, so he doesn't really 'know' any other way...
But I wil say not getting a divorce can sometimes be worse. My mom should have divorced my fathers years ago, but she didn't, because of us kids. Now, I am 'dealing' with the result of her just 'sucking it up' for us. She has moved in with us and I have become her shoulder. After my brother moved out a few years ago she realized how empty she had become from staying with my father when she should have left him. Yes it would have been hard on us, but it makes me so sad seeing what has become of my mom. So, long story short, if it is not a heathy relationship then it is probably better off ended, even though it might be hard for the kids short term. It kills me to see my mom like this and now know the pain she has suffered for so long...
post #14 of 160
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Yeah, I know. I just wanted opinions anyway.

I think dh was seriously screwed up by his parents' divorce, but I also know that his mother bad-mouthed his father a lot (and still does to this day.)
My parents are happily married. H parents divorced and (we're almost 40) still can't be in the same room together, bad mouth each other and are just toxic. I think my H is very affected and screwed up by his parents divorce and unhappy marriage together.

As for me, I have the same question you do. We coexist. We don't argue in front of the kids. We kinda just do our own things.
post #15 of 160
I suppose it depends.

However, almost all of my friends come from (acrimoniously) divorced families (including me). We are all doing very well as adults, most of us in stable, happy marriages. On the other hand, we'd all say that it messed us up quite seriously - at the time of the divorce. We were all between the ages of 8-13 when our parents split, and those were dark, difficult years. A lot of anger, a lot of sadness, a lot of high-risk activity. It took years for most of us to get over the wreckage of the families we'd known. They are not years we really like to think about now.

We emerged as adults ok. But the years it took to get there were not ok.
post #16 of 160
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Yeah, I know. I just wanted opinions anyway.

I think dh was seriously screwed up by his parents' divorce, but I also know that his mother bad-mouthed his father a lot (and still does to this day.)
Yeah. This is indicative of some real problems, imo. That kind of thing leaves kids feeling guilty for still caring about the "other" (non-custodial) parent, makes them feel pulled between both parents, etc. It's really unfair to pull on a child's loyalty like that.

I let one or two comments about my ex slip out, despite my good intentions, but I generally gave ds1 as honest, yet age-appropriate, an explanation of what was going on as I could manage. (In the first couple of years after our breakup, my ex first bounced between 3-4 addresses in about six months, then mostly dropped off the map, then ended up in jail.) Explaining what was going on, without badmouthing his dad, was hard...but he deserved to know, and he did not deserve to feel that the father he loved - and was/is quite a bit like, in some ways - was someone I held in contempt, yk?

I think this kind of thing is a huge factor in how a divorce impacts kids.
post #17 of 160
I believe that children and adults suffer consequences in divorce. This, however, is not a simple topic to post about and/or make generalizations about.
post #18 of 160
I think it depends on how much tension/conflict the kids actually witness.

To kids who really didn't know anything was wrong, ie. if mom and dad were civil, arguing behind closed doors or without kids around then, yes, it could affect them negatively. It could feel like the rug was pulled from underfoot.

However, if the kids maybe saw it coming from the horrible environment full of open conflict/hostility, maybe it prepares them somehow.

Then there's age and ability to understand dynamics without blaming themselves for being 'bad' and breaking the marriage up.

And gender dynamics.

So many factors to consider.
post #19 of 160
Thread Starter 
A couple of things I'm concerned would really affect my kids:

Living in two places, since we would share custody (as in, "oh no, the book/toy/game/outfit I want is at the other place," etc.)

both mom and dad having less money (my kids are really accustomed to music lessons, elaborate birthday parties, summer camps, vacations, etc.) I mean, this sounds materialistic, but it's the life they know, yk?

(And it's not really about materialism, because we buy them "experiences" much more often than "stuff.")
post #20 of 160
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by maizy View Post

As for me, I have the same question you do. We coexist. We don't argue in front of the kids. We kinda just do our own things.

I saw your vax thread.
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