does divorce really screw up kids? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 160 Old 07-12-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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A&A, I imagine I understand only a sliver of what you've been experiencing, through what you described. But in my marriage I was the one who was demanding and demeaning for a few years. I did not respect my dh much, I made 'commands' not 'requests', I was sarcastic and cutting with him, he could do nothing right. Unfortunately it's what I grew up with. My mom was nothing but scornful of my dad. However - I did actually shape up and I treat my dh much, much better now.

As ugly as my mom was to my dad, and it was pretty horrible, I'm glad they didn't divorce. I just wish my mom had got therapy or whatever so she could work out why she felt it was necessary to be so dreadful to her husband.

For what it's worth as just this mom out in cyberspace, I support whatever choice you make. Because you deserve to be happy and respected.

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#62 of 160 Old 07-12-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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I think it is all reletive. The statistics say "less likely to" and "more likely to" but what is more or less? more or less the who? There are so many variables. I got to the point where I realized. I was screwed up and their dad was even more screwed up (and growing up in a family with two parents who loved each other and love their kids and loved God didn't seem to give him any sort of advantage in life as far as not being screwed up goes) and they were getting way the heck screwed up by witnessing and living in the collasal mess that our marriage was...So yeah they may be at a disadvantage by us being divorced but hey they were at a disadvantage watching us do our stupid crap as well. They were at a disadvantage just by being my kids. I knew when I was preggers they would need therapy one day. at least now they have some sanity in their lives.

I am not saying you should get divorced. I am just saying even if it puts your kids at a disadvantage it is not the end of the world. My parents were divorced and my mom was crazy and I turned out right nice I think. Not perfect or even copmpletely stable by any means but I did OK. I didn't sleep around or do drugs or get thrown in jail. I went to church (even though my family did not) got good grades and had perfect attendence. I was just fine. except for my poor choice in men....

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#63 of 160 Old 07-12-2010, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
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For what it's worth as just this mom out in cyberspace, I support whatever choice you make. Because you deserve to be happy and respected.
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They were at a disadvantage just by being my kids. I knew when I was preggers they would need therapy one day.

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#64 of 160 Old 07-12-2010, 09:56 PM
 
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They were at a disadvantage just by being my kids. I knew when I was preggers they would need therapy one day.
Slightly off-topic: My DH and I have the (mostly mental) "therapy jar." When we mess up we say "time to put another $2 in the therapy jar."

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#65 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#66 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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I remember my parents divorcing when I was six and being happy that we got my mom to ourselves. She never made it a big deal because it is something that is normal in our family. I separated from my ex when dd was 3 and divorced when she was 4 and it has never been a big deal because we treated it as something normal. Even her deadbeat hardly there dad isn't a big deal because I never say a negative thing about him (when she is home) and we both treat her only seeing him a few times a year for an hour or so as normal and fine. It helps that this is how dads are in our family and we have all learned how to be single moms with great kids. My income went down significantly, but I have learned how to make great memories with staycations and cheaper birthdays.
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#67 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 12:44 AM
 
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Depends on the situation.

My parents got a divorce last year. I'm 21 and my sisters are 17 and 10.

I had already moved out so I wasn't in the middle of it but I can honestly say that is kind of gets to me when I visit my parents' houses and that I wish like hell that I appreciated my family as it was when I had it because I miss it every single day. Every once in a while it flares up really bad but I'm usually alright. I know, logically, that my parents are each happier now with their new partners and whatnot, but it still sucks on my end of things. Maybe I will feel a bit better with time. It's still new. I am happy that everyone else is happy though.

My sisters demonstrate both ends of the spectrum. The teenager is very upset about the whole thing. There's been too much change in her life recently and she is upset at how quickly my father got remarried. The little one loves it. More family for her!

Personally, I don't know how I'd react if a half-sibling were to pop up. I don't think it would go over too well though. Neither of my parents are looking to add more kids though. My dad's riding my ass about grandkids though! <3

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#68 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 12:50 AM
 
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I remember my parents divorcing when I was six and being happy that we got my mom to ourselves. She never made it a big deal because it is something that is normal in our family. I separated from my ex when dd was 3 and divorced when she was 4 and it has never been a big deal because we treated it as something normal. Even her deadbeat hardly there dad isn't a big deal because I never say a negative thing about him (when she is home) and we both treat her only seeing him a few times a year for an hour or so as normal and fine. It helps that this is how dads are in our family and we have all learned how to be single moms with great kids. My income went down significantly, but I have learned how to make great memories with staycations and cheaper birthdays.

We are similar to this. We didnt make it a big dramatic thing and ex dh and I were amicable and are still to this day, good friends. It doesn't have to be horrific.

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#69 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 12:53 AM
 
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My parents were selfish and arrogant in their reasons to divorce. my brother and I have suffered greatly. I agree with Arduinna's post about degrees of consequences in divorce.

My husband's parents have been married for over 36 years. They are selfish people, too, and their marriage lacks intimacy. He struggles deeply with the consequences of their selfishness and arrogance as well.

So what are the reasons to divorce? Where are our hearts in our marriage and divorce? What do we want for our children? I think it is really personal but I do think and see that divorce has grave consequences that our society just blows off a lot.
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#70 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 01:22 AM
 
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I think it is really personal but I do think and see that divorce has grave consequences that our society just blows off a lot.
I think it's very hard to see what the consequences are, because we can't see what would have happened to/with any given children of divorce if their parents had not divorced (or had divorced earlier or later). I can pretty much guarantee that my son, for instance, is far better off in every respect than he'd have been if I'd stayed with his dad any longer...and that he'd have been better off if I'd ended it a couple of years sooner than I did.

It's easy to look at overall stats of children whose parents divorced, and say that they don't do as well as children whose parents didn't divorce...but there's just no way to tell what stories underlie the numbers. I know some kids right now whose parents are divorced, and their lives are probably not going to look that good, as far as I can tell - but it's not because of the divorce.

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#71 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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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.
.
This is what happened in my family. My parents divorced when I was 19, after 21 years of marriage. It was a shock (to my mom as well), and it was really hard.

It's been 16 years now, and they still can't stand to be around each other. They mostly don't have to (never had to share custody, cause we were 18 and 19 at the time of divorce), but occasionally it comes up, like the birth of my babies, graduation, baby's 1st ibrthday party, weddings, etc. At those times, I really, really wish that they hadn't got divorced, cause it's just so stinking hard. But, that's just selfish thoughts on my part. They are both happier now. But, it's still hard.
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#72 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 10:52 AM
 
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It can I think. I have my issues, and I think my parents divorce had some negative effects. But know that I am older, (married 8 years BTW) I realize that my parents are dysfunctional, and I would quite likely have more issues if they'd stayed married!

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#73 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 11:12 AM
 
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BUT - as long as both you and your dh are able to honestly tell him, "We love you, we are both here for you no matter what, and we are going to do the best we can by you" he will be ok.
But maybe it won't. TBH, it bothers me that people view divorce as a "life happens" issue. It's not. Life happens is when a parent gets laid off or someone has to have expensive medical treatments. The family members come together, look at the situation, and make decisions on how to proceed.

Divorce doesn't "happen." It's a conscious decision that 2 (or 1, in some cases, I suppose) makes. Just because people can be resilient doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider their well-being in the meantime. My family of origin is so highly dysfunctional that divorce doesn't even register as a blip, but my family of choice isn't that way. I absolutely would fight with everything to stay married. Short of my husband waking up one day and becoming an abuser, I can't imagine a reason that I'd get divorced rather than working on our problems. I've seen severe abuse, neglect, really, really bad things, and I'll do anything I can to protect my children from pain.

So from a personal perspective, yes I think a divorce would be emotionally harmful to my children. From a research perspective, divorce is considered a major negative event on children. I think a lot of people want to believe it's okay for their children because believing otherwise would be painful. While there are extenuating circumstances that lead to divorce and make kids happier (leaving an abusive or addicted parent, for example), I don't think it's the case all the time.

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#74 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 11:22 AM
 
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My take? Divorce is divorce - a separating of the two parental units. I think what screws up kids, is screwed up parenting. Kids can adjust if they are given solidity and tools and a positive way thru... vs. anger, rage, blame, abuse, jealousy, guilt, etc...
If the parents can deal with the family separating in a healthy way, the kids could be taught that there is a healthy way to end a relationship that is not healthy anymore - which can be a great tool, actually. If the parents bring anger, rage, blame, abuse, jealousy, etc into the family, married or divorced, the kids will probably suffer & be confused & screwed up, etc.

Sorry for what you're going thru.

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#75 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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So from a personal perspective, yes I think a divorce would be emotionally harmful to my children. From a research perspective, divorce is considered a major negative event on children. I think a lot of people want to believe it's okay for their children because believing otherwise would be painful. While there are extenuating circumstances that lead to divorce and make kids happier (leaving an abusive or addicted parent, for example), I don't think it's the case all the time.
Being a kid of divorced parents, I think a parent being miserable is a lot worse for a kid than parents being divorced. If things can be worked out so that parents aren't miserably unhappy and divorce can be avoided, great. But that's very far from always possible. And kids ARE affected negatively from having parents who are unhappy with their lives.

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#76 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 11:48 AM
 
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My parents divorced when I was 19. My brother was 16 and my sisters were 11 & 8. It affected each of us differently (to this day), and it was definitely hard on all of us. It also had some benefits for each of us over the long run.

My parents' bad marriage leading up to the divorce affected each of us differently as well. They had a very strong commitment to each other, but no love or affection or even basic ability to communicate about simple matters. I personally was so relieved when my parents divorced, perhaps because as the oldest, I had spent so many years observing their dysfunction & mutual loathing. Later I got angry (especially at my mom, who was not the one to ask for divorce) for not ending the marriage sooner. Now I have yet another perspective, which is deeper compassion for my mom's situation and a better understanding of why she stuck with it, even though it sucked in so many ways.

One of the hardest tangles of the question of divorce/stay together is that sometimes I think staying together causes damage AND getting a divorce causes damage. In some situations, there just isn't a damage-free option. There are only trade-offs about the type & severity of the damage.

I also have perspective that life is like that, and people survive, grow, and often thrive in spite of the messed up things that have happened to them. I certainly have my share of damage from my parents bad marriage and their acrimonious divorce. But my damage isn't catastrophic, and it hasn't prevented me from having love in my life and doing things that I want to do.

And we have the imagined "therapy jar" for our DD, too! We started joking about it before she was even born. We joke that when she's 18 she gets to start college & therapy.

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#77 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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My take? Divorce is divorce - a separating of the two parental units.
But, it would result in the children having two homes, two beds to fall asleep in at night. I can't help but feel like it would be like trying to live out of a hotel half of the time.

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#78 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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But maybe it won't. TBH, it bothers me that people view divorce as a "life happens" issue. It's not. Life happens is when a parent gets laid off or someone has to have expensive medical treatments. The family members come together, look at the situation, and make decisions on how to proceed.

Divorce doesn't "happen." It's a conscious decision that 2 (or 1, in some cases, I suppose) makes. Just because people can be resilient doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider their well-being in the meantime. My family of origin is so highly dysfunctional that divorce doesn't even register as a blip, but my family of choice isn't that way. I absolutely would fight with everything to stay married. Short of my husband waking up one day and becoming an abuser, I can't imagine a reason that I'd get divorced rather than working on our problems. I've seen severe abuse, neglect, really, really bad things, and I'll do anything I can to protect my children from pain.

So from a personal perspective, yes I think a divorce would be emotionally harmful to my children. From a research perspective, divorce is considered a major negative event on children. I think a lot of people want to believe it's okay for their children because believing otherwise would be painful. While there are extenuating circumstances that lead to divorce and make kids happier (leaving an abusive or addicted parent, for example), I don't think it's the case all the time.
As a child of divorced parents, I agree with all of this. I spent much of my life arguing in favor of my parents divorce, and that it didn't affect me...but now at 40, in my own marriage with my own child I can see that it really has been detrimental to me in many ways. I wish my parents had gotten some therapy and fixed their own issues, each of them, and then fixed their marriage. I don't think either of them went on to be significantly happier post-divorce. They just traded in different problems.

If you do get divorced, I think the best thing to do is still face up to your problems honestly--they will not go away. If you are unhappy, figure out why and deal with it. I would suggest getting your children some pre-emptive therapy since a divorce is confusing to go through and being able to talk to a neutral person would be helpful. I think divorce can be so horrible that a lot of parents (my mom) hide under the bedcovers while everything is falling apart. Specifically, don't do that.
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#79 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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But maybe it won't. TBH, it bothers me that people view divorce as a "life happens" issue. It's not. Life happens is when a parent gets laid off or someone has to have expensive medical treatments. The family members come together, look at the situation, and make decisions on how to proceed.

Divorce doesn't "happen." It's a conscious decision that 2 (or 1, in some cases, I suppose) makes. Just because people can be resilient doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider their well-being in the meantime. My family of origin is so highly dysfunctional that divorce doesn't even register as a blip, but my family of choice isn't that way. I absolutely would fight with everything to stay married. Short of my husband waking up one day and becoming an abuser, I can't imagine a reason that I'd get divorced rather than working on our problems. I've seen severe abuse, neglect, really, really bad things, and I'll do anything I can to protect my children from pain.

So from a personal perspective, yes I think a divorce would be emotionally harmful to my children. From a research perspective, divorce is considered a major negative event on children. I think a lot of people want to believe it's okay for their children because believing otherwise would be painful. While there are extenuating circumstances that lead to divorce and make kids happier (leaving an abusive or addicted parent, for example), I don't think it's the case all the time.
SO maybe it won't be OK. Maybe they won't be OK if the parents stayed together. Maybe there will be other "major negative events" that go on in their lives. A person having to have extensive medical treatments can still be a major negative event - as can other things that are totally up to chance.

I think that in divorce the parties seeking the divorce can choose to make it a less negative event - by never speaking ill of the other party, by doing everything they can to foster a good relationship with both parents, etc. Yes, it may be a negative event, but it doesn't have to turn children into monsters or mess them up for life. People come through "negative events" every day and go on to lead normal lives. Divorce doesn't have to be a negative event that screws children up.

I think that people should try to stay in marriages, but I also think that people have the right to be happy - and children have the right to have happy parents. When parents aren't happy children get screwed up too - even if their parents are together. So which is better? Parents that are miserable and together, or parents that are happy apart, and able to parent much more effectively?
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#80 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 01:53 PM
 
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But, it would result in the children having two homes, two beds to fall asleep in at night. I can't help but feel like it would be like trying to live out of a hotel half of the time.
That depends on the custodial arrangement. If you think that it would be detrimental to the kids to be split 50/50 between the parents, don't do that.
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#81 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 01:59 PM
 
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TBH, it bothers me that people view divorce as a "life happens" issue. It's not. Life happens is when a parent gets laid off or someone has to have expensive medical treatments. The family members come together, look at the situation, and make decisions on how to proceed.

Divorce doesn't "happen." It's a conscious decision that 2 (or 1, in some cases, I suppose) makes. Just because people can be resilient doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider their well-being in the meantime.

So from a personal perspective, yes I think a divorce would be emotionally harmful to my children. From a research perspective, divorce is considered a major negative event on children. I think a lot of people want to believe it's okay for their children because believing otherwise would be painful. While there are extenuating circumstances that lead to divorce and make kids happier (leaving an abusive or addicted parent, for example), I don't think it's the case all the time.
Well said.


Too many people today pass off divorce as normal and no big deal and act like bio parents don't matter that much.
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#82 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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Well said.


Too many people today pass off divorce as normal and no big deal and act like bio parents don't matter that much.
WHAT??? Can you please expand on this? I haven't seen a single post on here that says that a step-parent is more important than a bio-parent to a child.
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#83 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:04 PM
 
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WHAT??? Can you please expand on this? I haven't seen a single post on here that says that a step-parent is more important than a bio-parent to a child.
That is because I was making a general comment about how society views parents today. I wasn't quoting anyone in this thread. Not every comment posted in threads is a direct reply to someone else's comment.

BTW, I never said anything about step parents.
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#84 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:10 PM
 
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That is because I was making a general comment about how society views parents today. I wasn't quoting anyone in this thread. Not every comment posted in threads is a direct reply to someone else's comment.
I don't see that as the general societal view though. I can't move out of the state I currently live in b/c my son's dad lives here. It's HARD to move out of state when you get divorced - you have to PROVE in COURT that its in your child's BEST INTEREST. Thats not an easy standard to meet at all.

I think my son's father is a very important part of his life, and I think that most parents would agree that their children should have relationships with both parents. A step-parent does not get to replace a bio-parent (unless there is a history of abuse, neglect, or abandonment - and then it very well could be in the childs best interest).

People do pass divorce off as normal - but thats b/c it is. don't 50% of marriages end in divorce now? That makes it normal - at least today it is.

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#85 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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Even looking at happiness of children of divorced parents to children of married parents can be deceiving. You'd have to look at the happiness of children of divorced parents compared to the children of parents who considered divorce but stayed together, or something more like that. A statistic that includes children of happily married parents isn't useful if that isn't an option.

Also, there's a difference between remaining in an unhappy marriage for the kids, and going to couples counseling and working on a marriage to make it happier for the kids.

Personally, if my marriage were unhappy, I would first try hard through counseling or whatever to make the marriage better for the sake of the children, even if that weren't my first desire. But I would not personally remain in an unhappy marriage for my children, as I don't think that it would even be in their best interest, and I also don't think it would serve them for me to be a martyr for them, nor do I want to teach them to become martyrs. (Not saying "being a martyr" is a description for anyone's situation or potential, just how I would interpret it in my case, or more accurately how I interpret it in the case of my unhappily married parents.)
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#86 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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I don't see that as the general societal view though.
I'm not surprised we don't agree on this. I'm not debating it with you any further though.
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#87 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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I think a lot of people want to believe it's okay for their children because believing otherwise would be painful.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I believe it was okay (not great, in many ways) for my son, because it was. I had ds1 seeing the school counsellor as soon as my ex and I split up, and the counsellor eventually told me that he'd love to keep working with him, because he was a lot of fun, but that he really didn't need any help and was doing great.

And, I know his dad is important to him. About a year ago, he saw him again for the first time in a few years. DS1 took his sketchbook, his juggling equipment, his guitar, etc. It was like he was audtioning for a part and desperate to impress the casting director. (In my personal opinion, his father should have been on his freaking knees, begging for the right to be part of this remarkable young man's life, but that's not how it works.) Whether my ex deserves it or not, he is ds1's dad, and he is important to ds1. That doesn't mean that he and I staying together would have even remotely been in my son's best interests.

The thing about divorced parents vs. married parents is that, in the case of a divorce, the marriage was such that at least one parent was unhappy enough to want a divorce. Yes - there are married couples who have also worked through stages like that, but there are no divorced couples where both parties were thriving. When we're comparing the two groups, all the ones with functional, or even happy, marriages are in the "still married" group, and none of them are in the divorced group. It's apples and oranges.

And, yeah - there are cases where people divorce for what seem like frivolous reasons. I know at least one woman who basically dumped her husband, because he turned out to be a fallible human being, instead of a white knight out of a romance novel. But...her approach to life is such that she won't ever have a successful long-term relationship, whether she marries or not, and whether she has children or not, unless something major changes within her. So, we can look at her kids and say, "they're screwed up, because they come from divorced parents"...but it's more like "they're screwed up, becuase their mother is in denial - about everything - to her eyebrows". The same things that caused her marriage to fold are the things that make her a less-than-wonderful parent. It's not cause and effect.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
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#88 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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But, it would result in the children having two homes, two beds to fall asleep in at night. I can't help but feel like it would be like trying to live out of a hotel half of the time.
It totally depends on the custodial situation.

In my case I moved away to another state with my mom and stepdad, and only had to see my dad during the summer, but when I was a teen I decided I didn't want to do even that because life at his house sucked. My stepmom was a pretty awful person most of my teen years, honestly the damage from the divorce came from her being such a rag. I hated her and what she did to my family(dad and her were cheating on their spouses). She treated my very badly, imagine how it feels to come home and find ALL of your belongings packed up in the front yard, yep she did that. I was 12 at the time and was moving in with my mom because life with them and their new babies was dreadful.

Now as a mom to two young children can *kinda* understand her irrational behavior was partially brought on by being a sleep-deprived new mom of twins, BUT that doesn't make her behavior acceptable at all. I feel that if parents do divorce they need to be advocates for their children first. I think my dad just was a bit spineless through the whole thing, and my mom was just as weak because she signed some stuff in the divorce decree that was superbly lame. I do know that they really were just pretty selfish in the situation.

Thing is though, they are happier with their partners, both remarried and still are married to their new mates(20+years later). They were a bad match, and I was a failure of BC, they weren't established in their relationship and were thrust into being parents when they weren't ready.

There are many kids from "happily married" families that are screwed up, there are kids of drug addicted parents who are fine, I think more of it has to do with how the kid processes and adapts. No matter how stable a family is a kid may end up angry over something, and be messed up from it.

It really is dependent on the situation.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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#89 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 03:23 PM
 
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But, it would result in the children having two homes, two beds to fall asleep in at night. I can't help but feel like it would be like trying to live out of a hotel half of the time.
Yeah, I mean, it would have been easier in some ways (mine divorced when I was 7) to not have to move around at all. But, that part was not the hard part, and to be honest. We (my sis & I) didn't have a set room or a particular bed and would sleep on sleeping bags in our Dad's living room... we went every other wknd for several months at least until he moved out of state and then it was only a few x per year... but we didn't feel bad about sleeping on the floor. And he would flip us a $20 and we'd walk to the corner store and get candy bars & the cereal that our mom didn't buy. It had its perks, as a kid!

All casual attitude aside tho, if you're facing this, the parts that did cause problems for my sis & me were their behaviors toward each other & toward us, the remarriage of my mom to an alcoholic pervert, my mom's anger & rage issues. Our dad was killed when I was an early teen, that was hard & I got caught up in killing that pain with alcohol for many years. But, I feel that they could have made it different, maybe even very positive, if they'd been capable of getting their own emotions & anger, etc under control & presenting the situation as a positive one. Maybe not, but I think even if they'd stayed together and had the same attitude they had, we could have still had major issues to deal with, maybe even worse? I really don't think their act of divorcing and having to go from home to home was what did it.

"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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#90 of 160 Old 07-13-2010, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
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That depends on the custodial arrangement. If you think that it would be detrimental to the kids to be split 50/50 between the parents, don't do that.
I don't know if it would be exactly 50/50 but we're both very involved in their lives, and we're both very important to them, and that wouldn't change. Therefore the custodial agreement would reflect that. I'm trying to work on being happy in my marriage, though. Some days I manage that; some days I don't. I think dh finally "gets" the depth of my unhappiness, though. That's a good place to start.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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