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does divorce really screw up kids? - Page 2

post #21 of 160
I don't think it screwed me and my siblings up. My parent divorced when I was 3, yet they remained good friends and did a great job co-parenting. My dad would be there many mornings to take us to school, he was around for conferences, sport events, concerts, etc. When we got in trouble as teens you better believe my mom was on the phone with him and he came over for lectures/family meetings. He was/is always at my mom's house for holidays - so we didn't have to switch off and say, have Christmas with one parent one year and the other the next - my Dad was there Christmas morning. We did do the whole every-other weekend at my Dad's house growing up. But it was fun, and he lived in a few different nearby cities, so it wasn't something we dreaded.

I'm sure it was harder on my mom in ways financially. She had worked to put my dad through law school, and then they split and he was a judge for a while before getting out of the field all together. She was an RN, and has two master's degrees in nursing - including becoming a midwife. I know there was a time when my dad wasn't paying child-support - but I didn't know it at the time, yk? She wasn't complaining about it, and we weren't suffering, as a result. I can see how splitting up could mean a big financial stress depending on the family (especially when I consider my own marriage; I've been a SAHM for a decade w/o a completed college degree. Child support wouldn't allow us to have the same life we do now).

I definitely agree that it really depends on how the divorce is handled - whether or not true co-parenting is possible, if there is resentment on either side - badmouthing, etc., the age of the kids, living situations (like in the case of one parent moving to another state). Step-parents and step/half siblings (I have a half-brother), are all things to consider.

IME, though, there is a way to go about it that least impacts the kids. I never really wished my parents were married, even though I don't remember them being married since I was so young.

A&A. I read your post in P&P, but didn't have anything helpful to contribute.
post #22 of 160
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
A&A. I read your post in P&P, but didn't have anything helpful to contribute.
Thanks!! I'll take all of the hugs I can get.
post #23 of 160
I think it is super complicated.
My parents divorce was pretty hard on me and my brother. I have done a lot of therapy - and am now happily married and in a good spot in my life. I probably appeared outwardly to have it pretty well together, but struggled with relationship/family dynamic stuff a lot. But, and this is a huge part of it I think, my parents had a horrible divorce. They did not co-parent, talked badly about each other, did awful things to each other, were in court non-stop, held a lot of anger and blamed each other for a lot - even though they clearly hated each other, it was like they could never get over it and let it go. Sooo, I would probably say that divorce is going to be hard for your kids to some degree. How hard it is will probably depend on how the parents handle the situation. I don't think kids come out totally unscathed, but if it is necessary, it can be handled well - or not.

A book I would recommend is called "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce". Very interesting and applicable, I found.
post #24 of 160
My parent's split the summer I turned 9. I have no memories of them fighting before the split (a handful from after). I think divorcing my father was one of the best decisions my mother made. Yes, I have some hurt and scars related to the divorce. My father has not been a father to me or my brothers (aged 7 and 2 at the time) since the divorce. He moved in with his secretary, and her two children started calling him dad and using his last name in no time. Meanwhile he went longer and longer without seeing us or speaking to us. He often moved (cities and even states) without letting us know. My mother also screwed up a bit, a few times really ranting about him to me (I think mostly with me as the oldest and only girl she felt like I should understand her position more. I think she was more careful about what she said to or in front of my brothers.)

Neither of my brothers have spoken to him in years, and this January he disowned me in a bizarre off the deep end email. He's unstable to say the least.

My mother did very very well to get out and get us out. I'm hurt by his rejection. It was really hard for her to be a broke single mom after years of SAH. Her remarriage was a hard transition for all of us. My stepfather is a wonderful caring husband and father (with some faults of course). He brought to the family three kids I am so very glad to call my siblings.

I'm not screwed up. My relationships with my parents, step parents, siblings and so on have certainly helped make me who I am today. I was a rather strong student in middle and high school. I was a very successful self employeed tutored throughout high school and well beyond. I never did do drugs, drink alcohol, or the like. I married my high school sweetheart when we were very young. We put ourselves through college, started careers, bought a house, and then had children. My DH and I have our issues, but ours is a solid loving marriage.

My father was an alcoholic. Both of my brothers have struggled with alcoholism as well. They're not nearly as on the surface successful as I am. I don't think that's the fault of the divorce. They are honestly very loving men. They're not settled in relationships at the moment, but they treat women with respect.

A&A, if you need to make changes in your marriage to take care of yourself, don't hold off because of your children.
post #25 of 160
My parents divorced when I was sixteen and it really screwed me up. REALLY. I'm sure it doesn't do the same to everyone since there are a million factors.
post #26 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post
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.
That.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissLotus View Post
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.
And that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cascadian View Post
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.
And that.
post #27 of 160
I thought that more of the research was indicating that if the marriage was high-conflict, kids tend to see how the divorce improves their personal situation and have better outcomes (than if the parents stayed together)

If the marriage is low-conflict, kids don't feel the reason for the divorce, and see only the negative side of it for them and have poorer outcomes (than if the parents stayed together).

However -- generally the outcomes (not surprisingly) are better for kids coming from a low-conflict situation than a high-conflict situation.

Nice even-handed article summarizing research and what items indicate a better outcome and how to mitigate certain factors:

http://parenting247.org/article.cfm?ContentID=646
post #28 of 160
I haven't read the other replies.

My parents divorce did affect me. But I think that was mostly the circumstances surrounding it, not the actual divorce. I was older, 17, so I think that helped (I guess, I don't really have anything to compare it to).

I think the worst part for me was trying to learn how to deal with my parents as separate. It wasn't a pleasant divorce and they have a very hard time being in the same place at the same time even now, so it makes family things extremely difficult. And I did bring some issues into my own marriage as a result.
post #29 of 160
I think it's such an individual thing. I know a family where the kids are doing much better since their parents' divorce, but it was a really awful and tense marriage and anything would be better than living in that environment. Also, there's something to be said for parents being in separate happy relationships instead of one unhappy relationship from the standpoint of modeling happy adult relationships for their kids. On the other hand, divorce can be full of drama, and can be financially devastating, both of which can be difficult for children. And the difficulties single parents face, and having parents date and bring other romantic partners in and out of the kids' lives can be difficult. I suppose you'd have to weigh the pros and cons for your specfic case.

post #30 of 160
In the short term my answer is yes. In the long term no it won't. Sorry for being brief I have to run take my kid to another appointment. My answer is based off my divorce. My ex got addicted to drugs and when he refused to straighten up I kicked him to the curb, hired a good lawyer and now have sole custody. The only real right the ex has any more to our child is to pay child support. I am a better mother now that I only have to take responsibility for a child and not have to parent a man-child as well.
post #31 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
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.
Didn't have time to read the whole thread, but had to comment--

LIFE screws up kids. All kinds of unfortunate things will happen in life, and everything that happens in life affects our emotional/psychological development.

I do believe (my own opinion) that the best environment for kids includes a happy and stable adult relationship to emulate. But that is not always possible. And I am absolutely certain that divorce is better for kids, than growing up in a household with an unhappy and acrimonious adult relationship to emulate.

From all the people I've known who grew up with divorced parents, the worst damage seems to come when the parents clearly hated each other and would talk bad about each other, and put the children in the middle of their personal disputes. When the divorced parents acted like adults and didn't bring their kids into the argument, things tend to turn out better.

When my parents split I was 11. I did have wishes of them getting back together. But that stopped after a few years, when I was old enough to understand more what relationships are. They were very unhappy together, and their fighting caused a lot of stress in us kids before the divorce. Now that I'm grown, I am glad that they split when they did, because it was worse for us when they were together.

I consider myself only minimally screwed up
post #32 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Does divorce really screw up kids, or do they generally come out ok?
How are we defining ok?

Because most of the time IME the ok is defined as the kids not turning into a ax murderer or living their whole adulthood in their mothers basement. When ok should include such things as having a healthy sense of self, feeling safe in the world and able to make long lasting commitments to other people. Those are the things that are at risk as a result of divorce.

I think it is really important for children to have a mother and father that live together while growing up but those parents need to be mature enough to not inflict their relationship struggles ( we all have them at some point) on their children. It should never come down to a choice of kids living with parents that are always fighting in front of them vs living apart. There are cases where kids will be better off without one of their parents living in the home, but whatever has caused that situation to come to pass is going to effect them in some way.
post #33 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissLotus View Post
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.

.
Yep. I was so relieved when my parents finally divorced. They had been awful to each other for years, and with my mother putting my brother and I in the middle of it. Just not having Mom around any more was way, way better.
post #34 of 160
His parents' divorce really screwed up my stbx-- but I think them staying together would have messed him up, too.

Stbx and I have been separated for less than 5 months. I know living with him was messing up our dc. He was acting badly in so many ways, and I was really stressed dealing with him.

So far, being apart is much better for the kids. I am less stressed and angry. He "has to" pay attention to the dc during visitation, which he barely did before. And he "has to" give me money to take care of them now, instead of blowing it.

My dc are happy that their dad is actually spending time with them and that their mom is less tightly wound.
post #35 of 160
My children were happy as long as I was happy. Did they miss their dad while we were separated? YES. Now that we are back together and getting remarried, we live together again, they are MUCH happier for it. I think it all depends on how you are both able to parent in the situation. Meaning, if your marriage is so bad, it is making you a snappy mess of a parent, it will prob affect them positively to have the two of you seperate. Also your children are old enough to express themselves to you, H, and possibly a counselor if needed. Good luck in whatever comes about.
post #36 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
How are we defining ok?

Because most of the time IME the ok is defined as the kids not turning into a ax murderer or living their whole adulthood in their mothers basement. When ok should include such things as having a healthy sense of self, feeling safe in the world and able to make long lasting commitments to other people. Those are the things that are at risk as a result of divorce.

I think it is really important for children to have a mother and father that live together while growing up but those parents need to be mature enough to not inflict their relationship struggles ( we all have them at some point) on their children. It should never come down to a choice of kids living with parents that are always fighting in front of them vs living apart. There are cases where kids will be better off without one of their parents living in the home, but whatever has caused that situation to come to pass is going to effect them in some way.
ITA with this.

In other words, there are other options to fighting and bringing the DC into the situation. Exactly why we made the decision to be together again.
post #37 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
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.)

[I]I help my son pack a bag ever Friday that contains what he wants. If something really important has been left behind, then I will run it over or he and his dad will come and get it. Mostly if it's just about a toy he thought about and wants, then he can wait for 48 hours until he gets home. [/I]

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.")

Will they be able to do everything they want? No. May children have had a parent ( or both) get laid off recently and have lost out on lessons and camps and whatnot. That's life. Some places have scholarships or reduced payments for people who just don't have the money. Sometimes judges will encorperate this kind of stuff into child support payments. Perhaps things would be civil enough between you and your ex that he would split the cost with you? I understand that your kids are accustomed to certain things, but there are other life events that could take those things away. It's not unrealistic for your kids to understand that once a divorce takes place that standard if living usually decreases. If it's handled the right way and you find a way to not be super negative about it, then it is simply a type of change that they will have to adjust to.
post #38 of 160
IIRC, the research shows that research is pretty darn bad for kids, but if the marriage is very high in conflict, sometimes divorce is better than staying together. Much of the negative impact of divorce has to do with the reduced standard for living of moms, who usually have custody.
post #39 of 160
My parents didn't divorce until I was 21. I can honestly say I used to wish they would divorce...I would dream that my mom would leave my dad and life would get better (he was a violent binge alcoholic).

I don't think it's the divorce the screws up the kids, but the parenting. I know many people whose parents divorced but stayed civil, respectful, fully engaged and they turned out great. In my case, my mom didn't want to divorce "for the kids"...I feel like I am now really trying to learn how to maintain my boundaries and not get walked all over, trying to undo the "ingrained lessons" from growing up with someone who put everyone else first...even at everyone's expense.

I think each scenario has their different screw-ups, you know? Would I be a better person had my mom left? Who knows? I think I've done pretty good, but it's been at the cost of a lot of hard lessons (past and present) and I am still working on it. I think it would be the same either way, though.
post #40 of 160
From observation and not personal experience I think it actually depends on whether the parents keep the children's needs central after the divorce, or whether they go through some kind of stage.

I know parents who have divorced and yet chosen to live within several blocks of each other to disrupt life as little as possible; not bad-mouthed the kids; worked together to provide as much as possible for the kids in the "new reality" (two rents) and not gotten into crap like "well I paid for swimming so even though I have money and you don't I won't pay for soccer."

Others have chosen to prioritize their own dating life or lifestyle over their kids' needs.

Also it does depend on the "the village." Extended family, friends, etc. can really help. Or not.

I know this boils down to "it depends" but maybe it is food for thought.
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