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does divorce really screw up kids? - Page 6

post #101 of 160
I am not saying divorce isn't hard on kids but what I think is harder on them is all the crap the builds up to a divorce. It would have been great for my kids if my husband and I could have kissed and made up and went on living happily ever after. but it was not healthy for them to see up like we were. granted, divorce is not easy on any of us. neither was the affair, the emotional abuse, me going crazy, the physical violence, the constant fighting, them not ever knowing if daddy was coming home or walking out for good, me being constantly stressed and mentally deranged. ALL of that hurt them terribly and it greives me. But I don't believe us staying together would have done them any favors. I am such a better mother now that I don't constantly freak out about their dad. Their dad actually sees them every now and then because he doesn't have to see me. They know he left us for his new girlfriend but divorced or married he would still be with her. and they would definitely know about her by now either way. Nothing healthy or advantageous about it. yes divorce sucks. and if you can avoid it by all means do everything you can to make your marriage work. But divorce is not necessarily worse than staying together in a really insane environment. Either way your kids get screwed. and that sucks. You just have to figure out how to do the least amount of damage sometimes.
post #102 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
I'll make sure to tell that to my husband who after 50+ years still longs to know where he came from and who is bio parents are. Thanks.
Wanting to know your origins doesn't mean biology is important, it means we do have a drive as humans to know where we came from. Saying biology is important devalues every family where DNA is not part of the connection. Including my family, with my kids, and my family, with my parents.

If biology is so dang important then why did my mother want me, the family member she has no biological connection with, to be the one who walked her down the aisle when she got re-married? Why is it she introduces me to friends and co-workers as "my oldest boy"? Why did DD start calling me Papa on her own with no influence from me or DH? Why am I the one she goes to when she needs help with matters pertaining to growing up? She has a biological mother (who admittedly doesn't want anything to do with her) she has two grandmothers, she has her biological dad too who is her other parent, and yet I am the one that she feels comfortable going to. Every non-biological connection in my family is just as valid and just as strong and just as important as any of the biological connections.
post #103 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by vbactivist View Post
Re: kids needing to have relationships with both parents. It's hard to have a real relationship (non-custodial father) when only seeing the person 4 days a month. A lot, if not most, visitation agreements are every other weekend. That is not enough time with one's children, no matter how you slice it.
And, in some cases, there's no real relationship with one parent, even if that parent lives in the house. I have very little relationship with my dad since the divorce...but what little relationship I had with him before the divorce was an illusion. He's simply not interested in having that relationship. (The same applies to his parents. As soon as my mom stopped pushing visits and phone calls, he pretty much dropped them both.)

After our divorce, my ex played treat dad for a few months (without paying any child support - ever), and then basically dropped off the face of the earth for several years. DS1 saw him most Christmas Eves at my ex-SIL's place. That was it. While there, ds1 would get an IOU for an expensive gift that would never materialize. That was their "relationship". If you think that was because of the divorce, I can assure you that you're wrong.

Quote:
I think divorce is not god for kids. I think fighting all the time in front of your kids is not good, either. I think parents owe it to their children to figure out a way to coexist (in the same house) peacefully for the sake of their children.
And, what if you can't?

Quote:
I know this opinion is very unpopular here, but I don't know of many mothers' and children whose lives actually improve after a divorce. Statistics back that up. Also, I tend to see most people as going from one set of problems to another. I wish divorces were harder to get.
I'm really glad they're not harder to get, thanks. I had to borrow money from my mom to pay my legal fees, as it was. Without that divorce, dh probably couldn't have become a legal resident in Canada, which would have meant I'd have had to lose the one real source of emotional support in my life, or I'd have had to move to the US, and cut ds1 off from his friends and extended family (grandparents, cousin who was like a brother, etc.). I also don't care about statistics. My situation, both financially and physically (re: my health) improved by miles when we split up. Maybe some people do go from one set of problems to another, but people outside (ie. the courts) really aren't qualified to say which set is worse.

I stayed in an incredibly toxic situation for a long time, because I believed that divorce was bad for kids. I was an idiot, not to put too fine a point on it. Divorce isn't inherently good or bad for kids. It depends on a lot of factors.
post #104 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
I am such a better mother now that I don't constantly freak out about their dad.
You said it.
post #105 of 160
What I find troubling in some divorce discussions is when the mother assumes that because she is unhappy, her child is automatically unhappy too.

It smacks of narcissism -- as if her child doesn't have independent feelings and emotions, but is instead merely a reflection of her.
post #106 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
It smacks of narcissism -- as if her child doesn't have independent feelings and emotions, but is instead merely a reflection of her.
I don't understand how you think living with someone either, child, parent, sibling or roommate that is deeply unhappy can't effect you or a child in the household? To me that sounds like a very self centered view to assume that some one you live with and interact with a majority of the day would not be impacted by your moods. Even my child who is very mentally handicapped picks up on my moods and they are reflected in how he reacts to me. If I am stressed (which is often the case because of his medical conditions) he often acts out more. I sometimes have to force myself to be happy around him and it can be really really hard especially if I just had bad news from one of his doctors. My ex was very troubled by severe depression at times. It impacted my life and stressed me out and made it harder for me to be happy because he was a large part of my life at that point. A family unit is codependent on one another not separate entities sharing space.

I don't know anyone who undertakes divorce lightly even after knowing all the really bad stuff my ex was involved with. I still offered him a second chance and no I wasn't being stupid. That second chance involved quite a few rules one of which was packing up and moving to a new state to get him away from his drug addicted friends as well as him getting significant mental health and substance abuse help but he refused and I just couldn't stay in that environment nor subject my son to it. Even his parents kicked him out after we split up because they realized all they were doing was enabling his destructive ways. He had to hit bottom. He lost everything he owned his relationship with his entire family, including me and his child before he finally admitted to having a problem. He says he is straightening out and I really really hope he is because before the addiction he was a fantastic person to know and be around it was why I married him. Addicts lie and manipulate and steal to support their habit so I am very doubtful about this turn around, even then I wouldn't reunite if he wanted to because he is a dreadful father and my son is far more important to me then a man I spent half my years on earth with. Even my ex admitted to being a bad father during the divorce. My attorney and I talked and he flat out said that my ex could take me to court but because of his history there was no way my ex would ever be able to get physical custody of our son and even visitation is very much limited from a legal perspective. I have allowed more visitation then what was in the custody agreement (because of my ex's issues the custody issue was pushed through the courts in advance of everything else) but only because I knew I could trust my ex-inlaws and it was with the stipulation that my son not leave his grandparents house. We are fortunate because I know my son's paternal grandparents will watch out for my son's safety and place that at higher importance then my ex's wants. If I didn't have that confidence in them then my son probably would have been completely cut off from his father's side of the family once I filed for the divorce and I would have had the law on my side so could have easily done it.

To clarify a misconception in this thread divorce is not easy. It is expensive and time consuming. It is exhausting physically and emotionally. I felt like all my dreams had been ripped away from me and shredded into a pile of scraps at my feet. I had to emotionally pull myself out and make myself a whole person again after my separation (my divorce won't be final for another month or two). Yet despite all that I would do it over again in a heartbeat because my child's and my life have improved significantly.
post #107 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by mekat View Post
I don't understand how you think living with someone either, child, parent, sibling or roommate that is deeply unhappy can't effect you or a child in the household? To me that sounds like a very self centered view to assume that some one you live with and interact with a majority of the day would not be impacted by your moods. Even my child who is very mentally handicapped picks up on my moods and they are reflected in how he reacts to me. If I am stressed (which is often the case because of his medical conditions) he often acts out more. I sometimes have to force myself to be happy around him and it can be really really hard especially if I just had bad news from one of his doctors. My ex was very troubled by severe depression at times. It impacted my life and stressed me out and made it harder for me to be happy because he was a large part of my life at that point. A family unit is codependent on one another not separate entities sharing space.
This is very much true. How we feel affects those around us. We, as humans, are designed to be affected by the emotional state of those we spend time with. This is especially true when dealing with what can technically be referred to as a superior/subordinate relationship, such as between employer and employee or mother and child, when one person ultimately has more power than the other. The person with less power instinctively picks up on and responds to the other persons emotional state as an evolutionary "self preservation" mechanism. If we can't adjust our behaviours when the person more powerful is in a bad mood, we are more likely to suffer negative consequences as a result.
post #108 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
What I find troubling in some divorce discussions is when the mother assumes that because she is unhappy, her child is automatically unhappy too.

It smacks of narcissism -- as if her child doesn't have independent feelings and emotions, but is instead merely a reflection of her.
First, I think the mother being unhappy usually does have an affect on her kids, just because of how close that relationship is. My mom was and is unhappy in her marriage and that had a huge negative affect on me. If my parents had divorced, that also would have had an affect on me. I don't know at all that divorce would have been worse. It certainly isn't a choice between good and bad, or even neutral and bad.

Also, the mother's happiness or unhappiness is important independent of how her children feel. Our feelings and lives don't stop being important when we have kids. I agree that the choice shouldn't be made without consideration of how the children will handle it, but her happiness should also factor into that equation. If she's able to create a good life for her kids and be happy, that's for the best, and that can happen with divorce.
post #109 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
What I find troubling in some divorce discussions is when the mother assumes that because she is unhappy, her child is automatically unhappy too.

It smacks of narcissism -- as if her child doesn't have independent feelings and emotions, but is instead merely a reflection of her.
A little off-topic but one of the more narcissistic things my mother did growing up was choose to be a SAHP when she was pretty clearly unsuited to it. Her image of "what a family should look like" was more important than the reality which was that our family was full of tension - over money, over her unhappiness, over her focus on small, small things as huge.

I think whenever you take a particular configuration - "children need two parents in the house" "one parent has to be home" "we have to keep up with the Joneses" "kids need private school" or whatever it is - and fail to address whether that configuration actually works for the people involved, you are engaged in narcissism of a particular kind. The kind that says, "I want to be a GOOD MOTHER and a Good Mother does X regardless."
post #110 of 160
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post #111 of 160
"I don't understand how you think living with someone either, child, parent, sibling or roommate that is deeply unhappy can't effect you or a child in the household?"

There is *effect* and then there is assuming that the child is as unhappy as the parent due to the continuing situation. Is the effect better or worse for the child than the divorce?

Also, I have known a number of people who have been blindsided by a parents' divorce or by a spouse's choice to divorce -- so it is possible to live with someone and be unaware of the extent/nature of their unhappiness.

My issue is that it is at heart a very easy excuse for doing whatever you want. "My kids are only happy if I'm happy, therefore I am fully justified in following my bliss." Very boomer-ish.

EDIT: It is also worth examining whether the parent will actually be happier after the divorce. My recollection of the research is that ON AVERAGE (only) they are not, and that the situation might be (in such cases) that people with unhappy tendencies who enter into marriages are more likely to become divorced. Obviously, there are situations of spouses with mental instability, addictions, abuse, etc. where that is not the case.
post #112 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
What I find troubling in some divorce discussions is when the mother assumes that because she is unhappy, her child is automatically unhappy too.

It smacks of narcissism -- as if her child doesn't have independent feelings and emotions, but is instead merely a reflection of her.
I don't know if you were refering to something I said or not but I will address it anyway....

I was not just unhappy/ I was loosing my mind and my chidlren were most definitely not happy in that situation. It wasn't because I was unhappy. its because their dad was off running aorund with another woman most of the time and when he was home was being cruel and abusive to theri mother. witnessing such craziness took its toll on them. They were also starting to lose their mind. never knowing when the next bomb was going to drop was awful for them. They knew their dad wanted out. They knew he hated me. Every time he left for work they would all launch into hysterics thinking he was never coming back. So it wasn't just a trite little "iof mama ain't happy, no one is happy" kinda crap. We were all very unhappy and that unhappiness was feeding more unhappiness. it was an insane situation. Also being in such a state I was completely unable to parent. and their dad was busy with other things and was hardly ever around and when he was he certainly was not parenting (he was usually in the basement playing video games and talking to his girfriend).


Quote:
Originally Posted by vbactivist
Re: kids needing to have relationships with both parents. It's hard to have a real relationship (non-custodial father) when only seeing the person 4 days a month. A lot, if not most, visitation agreements are every other weekend. That is not enough time with one's children, no matter how you slice it.
My ex gets a few hours one day a week and every other weekend. It is so much more time than he spent with them when we were married. Before I went back to work he saw them maybe 15 minutes a week and only because I would go sit outside his business and wait for him to come out and say hi to them. we usually had to wait half an hour or more to be acknowledged (he was the owner. all we wanted was a hello) So yeah, sometimes even four days a month is an improvement.
post #113 of 160
I wasn't referring to anyone in particular - just previous threads or discussions where the assumption is made that if the Mom is unhappy, the kids must be too.

While I would not be surprised if that is the case, I do not believe it is something that can be automatically assumed.
post #114 of 160
I was unhappy in my marriage. We went to marriage counseling and it highlighted how unhappy I was. I could have stayed and tried to work it out. We were both unhappy and not good partners, and were arguing in front of our 1.5 year old daughter. There was no abuse, there was no infidelity, there was nothing truly horrible. I was just miserable and felt like I was sleepwalking through my life.

Then, I did something arguably "selfish" though to me it felt like a life preserver thrown to someone drowning. I fell in love with someone else. That clarified for me pretty immediately that I could not continue in my marriage. My XH was shocked but at the same time relieved.

We are definitely both happier now. He is a MUCH better father on his own. We have a very, very amicable relationship. I am still with my partner and we are happy and are modeling a healthy relationship for my DD. My DD is happy and though I have spied for problems for her over the past year, she is thriving.

I will never ever know what it could/would have been like if we had stayed together. Would it have gotten better or worse? I will never know, but on the likely chance that I would have hung in there and we would have gotten divorced anyway, with more kids, and with them older, I definitely think it was better to end it when we did, while DD was still so little. She will never know any different. And on the one hand, that is very sad, but it is also a blessing.

I ABSOLUTELY feel like I did the right thing for my DD. I am a much happier, more joyful mother. Our finances are fine, as I WOH and can keep us in our home without a problem. Her dad is happy, a wonderful father. We are doing SO MUCH better. It is hard, it is sad, it is the loss of so, so, so many dreams. But there is more than one way to live a life, and there can be more than one set of dreams. I don't know if my DD will face her own inner troubles about this as she gets older. If so, I know that her dad and I will help her in any way possible. She will always know that she is very, very loved and cherished.

Maybe I am just looking at the bright side out of necessity. But I can't see how it would be better for her to grow up in a home where her parents were increasingly disrespectful of each other, and increasingly unhappy, and have that be what she understood marriage to be.
post #115 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane91 View Post
I wasn't referring to anyone in particular - just previous threads or discussions where the assumption is made that if the Mom is unhappy, the kids must be too.

While I would not be surprised if that is the case, I do not believe it is something that can be automatically assumed.
I'm the OP, and that is definitely NOT the case. If that were the case, I wouldn't have even felt the need to start this thread.
post #116 of 160
1. I wish my parents had divorced long ago. I started wishing this when I was about ten. My dad is emotional and financial deadweight, and he lacks introspection and motivation to change. Our family dynamic was/is essentially codependent and my mom is miserable with him today but still won't cut him loose. Drives me crazy.

2. I often want to divorce my DH. I'm not attracted to him any more (haven't been for years), I hate some of his attitudes/behaviors, and I'm pretty sure I could technically be *happier* with someone else...but IMO, *lackluster* isn't a reason for divorce. We have two small children who adore him, and he loves them...and divorce wouldn't rid me of having to deal with those things about him that bug me. It would just make a logistical nightmare out of our lives. Plus, there are no guarantees, and I do appreciate other things about DH. So I'm going to get creative with ways to make me/us happier, possibly get some counseling and stick it out. Marriages (relationships in general) aren't always a smooth ride.

I think you really have to do a cost-benefit analysis on a decision like this. In my parents' case, everyone would have benefited from divorce except my dad. In my case, no one really gains anything. How much is the *likelihood* that your kids will suffer negative consequences worth the estimated benefit to everyone involved? It's complicated, and also not to be taken lightly.
post #117 of 160
I thought of this thread today. I have a friend with a mixed son where the dad is African-American. She's said multiple times that she will never get divorced because statistically, black boys who don't have both parents in the home end up in jail.
post #118 of 160
Haven't read any of the other replies, but here's my blunt answer.

Divorce is only merited if there is unrectifiable abuse in the household. I would put under the category of abuse: cheating, alcoholism, drug addiction, verbal/ psychological abuse, physical abuse, gambling, spending addiction.

If things are just "blah" and dull at home, hang in there. It will be better for the kids in the long run. If nothing else, divorce is financially ruinous to families, and that has all kinds of implications for a child's future and well being.
post #119 of 160
My divorce certainly affected my seven year old dd (less my younger dd who was sixteen months at the time). My hope is that in the long term, it will turn out to have been a positive thing. We handled the divorce fairly amicably, maintain a healthy co-parenting arrangement, etc.

There is still some minor palpable tension when we're all together, so we tend to avoid any gatherings where we need to spend any significant time together. My ex and I dated, got pregnant very quickly - w/o any relationship to fall back on.

Despite marriage and marital counseling, it was evident that our situation is one that would definitely have ended up worse for the effort. After eight years we threw in the towel. I sincerely hope that by providing a stable, loving home life, my two dds will come out on top.
post #120 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugalmum View Post
Haven't read any of the other replies, but here's my blunt answer.

Divorce is only merited if there is unrectifiable abuse in the household. I would put under the category of abuse: cheating, alcoholism, drug addiction, verbal/ psychological abuse, physical abuse, gambling, spending addiction.

If things are just "blah" and dull at home, hang in there. It will be better for the kids in the long run. If nothing else, divorce is financially ruinous to families, and that has all kinds of implications for a child's future and well being.
And what about my parents? They got divorced because they just couldn't get along anymore. Everything turned into a shouting match, a loud shouting match. Yeah there was one incident of cheating, but that wasn't what sent the relationship down in hill. It happened because the marriage didn't end soon enough IMO.

When two parents cannot get along, to the point that they are screaming at each other in front of their kids, then it's more than just "the relationship is just blah, so I want out." It becomes "this relationship has reached the point of being toxic and for everyones best interest it needs to end."
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