does divorce really screw up kids? - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-15-2010, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
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."
Yeah, I agree that high-conflict marriages like that should end. I'm just wondering about my low-conflict marriage.

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Old 07-16-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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Ds just turned 3, and has turned out great so far.... granted he hasnt seen/heard from his daddy sense he was 15months old.

He has a family that loves him, and it doesnt matter to him that it doesnt include a dad.

BTW: Im not divorced yet, next week though, in theory!
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:22 AM
 
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How a child may feel about something at 3 can be very different than at age 10 when he wants to do Boy Scouts and most of the other kids have their Dads with them at camp and so forth. Or when he's 15 and wishes his Dad could to teach him about cars or how to drive, etc.

Now maybe that role is being filled by someone else for him, but I can't believe he will never experience any negative feelings about that fact that his biological dad has abandoned him, and I think a kid needs a safe space to be able to express that.
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Old 07-16-2010, 04:02 AM
 
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there are no easy answers because so many factors come into play. i personally think divorce is really really tough on kids. i can only speak from my own experience of raising my two children for the last 13 years after divorce and seeing how it has impacted and influenced them over time.

i don't think that a parent should kid themselves that divorce can't have a significant negative influence. the research seems to be fairly clear that it's just not a good scenario

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Old 07-17-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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Yeah, I agree that high-conflict marriages like that should end. I'm just wondering about my low-conflict marriage.
If you can avoid divorce and work together to figure out where the spark went, it probably better and easier to do that. Its easy to get looped into a boring routine and lose who you are in a long term relationship, and then lose the spark and your sense of identity that keeps life fun & interesting. Add kids to that mix and things can get to the point of feeling stuck in the mud, then built up stress causes arguments and distance between people, kids sense that and soon the whole family is stressed and feeling like running would be possibly the answer. OP, I feel for you, it sux to feel stuck. Could you and your husband dedicate some time to figuring out where "it" went in your relationship? And work out ways to bring some joy back in? From what you write it feels like you want changes but are pretty hesitant on divorce at this point.

I completely agree with all OP's b'c no two situations are alike and even if all goes great, the kids may struggle years down the road, then it would be too late. And then you get to live with being blamed for getting divorced and causing their unhappiness - not a fun role I imagine.

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Old 07-17-2010, 02:48 PM
 
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How a child may feel about something at 3 can be very different than at age 10 when he wants to do Boy Scouts and most of the other kids have their Dads with them at camp and so forth. Or when he's 15 and wishes his Dad could to teach him about cars or how to drive, etc.

Now maybe that role is being filled by someone else for him, but I can't believe he will never experience any negative feelings about that fact that his biological dad has abandoned him, and I think a kid needs a safe space to be able to express that.
OT! - I have a niece who's dad split the scene when she was less than a year old. Over the years has made no effort to see her but randomly calls (like every 2 - 3 YEARS!) to get her excited about seeing him, gifts that never materialize... its absolutely heartbreaking. She waffles between "I don't have a dad", to hating him but still acknowledging , to calling every one of her mom's boyfriends "DAD" after only a few months of dating... it so crazy. She constantly says "I love you" in a desperate way, like 20 times in an hour long conversation to me or her other relatives. Seems like she's making sure that we're not going to leave her, if she says she loves us enough. Really heartbreaking. She's 13 now and I'm so afraid of how she's expecting to be ready to have the confidence and clarity to navigate her own relationships. The divorce was not my sister's choice, but there's the result.

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Old 07-17-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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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.

<snip>

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.
Yes. That means that both biological AND choice are important. Saying biology is important does NOT devalue everything else; just as surely you do not think that non-biological connections trump all bio connections no matter how strong.

A weak connection is weak regardless of genetics. A strong one will be strong regardless as well.

But many people separated from their biological contacts DO feel a great deal of pain and/or yearning over that. They also often get told that is stupid and that it shouldn't matter to them (totally devaluing their feelings). I think it's important to recognize and acknowledge the entire web of our contacts without turning it into a competition. Some people will gravitate more towards one or the other. Others will do the opposite. But it's not cool to say "biology doesn't matter at all" just because it doesn't to you; and vice versa is not okay either.

Why does it have to be either or? Why does a statement of value for one automatically mean the other is devalued? I think that dads are of extreme importance in children's lives. Me saying that does not mean that I devalue mothers--because I also assign them the same level of importance. I don't think you can assume that because someone says biology is importance in one statement that therefore they believe that chosen kinship connections are not, that seems a little ridiculous to me; especially since this is a discussion of marriage/divorce--a primary relationship involving *chosen* hopefully non-biological connections!
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Old 07-17-2010, 09:16 PM
 
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Yes. That means that both biological AND choice are important. Saying biology is important does NOT devalue everything else; just as surely you do not think that non-biological connections trump all bio connections no matter how strong.

A weak connection is weak regardless of genetics. A strong one will be strong regardless as well.

But many people separated from their biological contacts DO feel a great deal of pain and/or yearning over that. They also often get told that is stupid and that it shouldn't matter to them (totally devaluing their feelings). I think it's important to recognize and acknowledge the entire web of our contacts without turning it into a competition. Some people will gravitate more towards one or the other. Others will do the opposite. But it's not cool to say "biology doesn't matter at all" just because it doesn't to you; and vice versa is not okay either.

Why does it have to be either or? Why does a statement of value for one automatically mean the other is devalued? I think that dads are of extreme importance in children's lives. Me saying that does not mean that I devalue mothers--because I also assign them the same level of importance. I don't think you can assume that because someone says biology is importance in one statement that therefore they believe that chosen kinship connections are not, that seems a little ridiculous to me; especially since this is a discussion of marriage/divorce--a primary relationship involving *chosen* hopefully non-biological connections!
Because of course biology is independent of the connection we have with people.

If someone was saying "It's better in most cases for the father to be the primary caregiver because the father is important" it does devalue to mother. Just like saying "it's better for children in most cases for parents to try and stay together because biology is important" devalues non-biological parent/child connections. If DH and I split, it would be just as painful for our children as it would for a child who's two biological parents in a happy relationship split.

When it comes right down to the parent/child relationship, biology is not a factor that affects the child in the divorce. It's the connection that has the affect. Was there a strong connection between parent and child that was severed either intentionally or unintentionally? Does one parents actions during the divorce negatively affect the connection the children have with the other parent? Is the negative effect warranted or is it based on the one parents own selfish reasons?

My connection to my biological mother was severed when I was less than 2 years old. It had absolutely no negative effects on me what so ever. If my connection to my non-biological mother were severed, even as an adult it would have a negative effect on me. And if my connection with my biological father were severed, well that would have a negative effect on me too. Biology is not a deciding factor.

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Old 07-19-2010, 12:16 AM
 
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Musician Dad,

I think those adoptees who feel compelled to search for their biological parents, and the children of sperm donors who feel compelled to locate their father donor would have to disagree with you. I think each person has their own individual feelings about the importance of the biological tie to them. Also, the issue may be made more complex with, for example, the children of interracial couples, where seperation from a biological parent can mean seperation from a particular cultural heritage as well.

However, I do believe that you would be in the minority to have abandonment by a biological parent mean nothing.
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:22 AM
 
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I would not say it screws them up, but it messes with children. Plus, rarely are divorced people nice to each other. They tend to drag the children in to it. It is extremely hard on children to not really have a home, but rather have two places they visit.

If someone needs to divorce, then it is the better alternative to whatever is going on. But, people should work at their marriage. I have seen people claim the other person is abusing them just because the other person did not have sex with them at 3am. That is not abuse. It is not ok to have an affair and then leave because you would be happier elsewhere. If that happens, then I would wonder how long that person would be happier there.

I have rarely know of a divorce that should have happened. Divorce does drag the children down. Divorce is awful for children and adults alike. People need to commit to their marriage or not get married in the first place. I understand there are times for a divorce where it is needed, but it still hurts the children.
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Old 07-19-2010, 12:40 AM
 
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Because of course biology is independent of the connection we have with people.
I think the issue is more complex than that, and varies from person to person. I am an adoptee and know too many adoptees who have searched and located biological relatives to believe that to be generally true. (Of course, there are also adoptees who never want to search or who do not feel a connection--in fact, quite the opposite--with birth relatives that they find.)

You can't extrapolate your experience to everyone. So while YOU may never have suffered effects from the loss of a biological parent, it does not mean that everyone else will be the same. And vice versa.

I think this is the problem when we as parents try to project what our children will feel. As nice as it would be sometimes that our kids would be little automatons of ourselves who feel, think, and experience the world in the same or very similar ways--that is simply not reality. We can make our best guess and do our best, but sometimes that is going to put us flat on our face.

I think generalizations (bio doesn't matter AT ALL never oh no) or (blood is thicker than water, chosen is a poor second) harm kids. First, it kind of removes their voice, if they feel differently about it than their parent expects. And second, it makes people who experience things differently than those around them feel like they are weird or devalued or defective for not being like what people want them to be.

I know as my own personal experience as an adoptee (WHICH DOES NOT EXTRAPOLATE TO ALL ADOPTEES, just to be *absolutely clear about that*!) I find myself walking a very thin line sometimes. I was also abused by my adopters, so you have abuse issues at play (both towards me and witness of abuse) as well. It's all very complex. And a different person plopped into my life would see things very differently I'm sure--because they're different from *me* and my complicated blend of personality and experience.

You may not wish biological connections to be important, but it doesn't make it true. Especially not for other people, who are not you.
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Old 07-19-2010, 01:48 AM
 
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I would not say it screws them up, but it messes with children. Plus, rarely are divorced people nice to each other. They tend to drag the children in to it. It is extremely hard on children to not really have a home, but rather have two places they visit.

If someone needs to divorce, then it is the better alternative to whatever is going on. But, people should work at their marriage. I have seen people claim the other person is abusing them just because the other person did not have sex with them at 3am. That is not abuse. It is not ok to have an affair and then leave because you would be happier elsewhere. If that happens, then I would wonder how long that person would be happier there.
I think that a child being reared by someone who would claim abuse, then leave their spouse and child over not getting sex at 3 am (and I really, really doubt that's all that was going on, but that's kind of beside the point), is going to have big problems, whether that parent does or doesn't leave. It's not the divorce that's the problem - it's the selfishness of the parent involved.

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I have rarely know of a divorce that should have happened.
What on earth makes you think that you know why any divorce happened?

My ex's friends and family - and my own sister - thought I was blowing things out of proportion, etc. and was being completely unreasonable when I kicked my ex out. I won't even repeat the names I was called behind my back, or the allegations that were being made about how it all went down - and some of the people saying that stuff had known me since I was a child. Everybody and their dog (except my bff and my mom) "knew" that my divorce shouldn't have happened, and I just wasn't working hard enough at it.

Oddly enough, after one of his friends offered my ex a place to stay (because his life was in shreds, because of that @#(*&% ex-wife), that same friend ended up apologizing and wondering how I lived with that crap as long as I did. He (the friend) filled a few other people in, and that was that. But, I suspect if my ex hadn't stayed there, that whole crew would be thinking there was no reason for us to have ever split up, even 10 years later. We can't see what goes on inside other people's marriages, and even my mom and bff only knew about about 75% of what was going on for me.

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Divorce does drag the children down. Divorce is awful for children and adults alike.
Actually, making up my mind to get a divorce was brutal...but actually getting divorced? Freedom. It felt like a new lease on life, and it wasn't awful at all.

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People need to commit to their marriage or not get married in the first place. I understand there are times for a divorce where it is needed, but it still hurts the children.
hmm...looking back 10 years and extrapolating...I can say with about 99.9% certainty that my divorce hurt ds1 a lot less than having both parents together would have. So, yeah - it hurt him...but there was no option that wouldn't, and divorce was definitely the lesser of two evils.

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Old 07-20-2010, 02:05 PM
 
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T...while children who are already in school experience depression and anger towards their parents...
I think you should probably point out here that this isn't universal, yk? I had ds1 seeing a counselor as soon as my ex and I split up. I felt he needed someone he could talk to who wasn't directly involved with the breakup. He never exhibited any signs of depression or anger. And, honestly, at 17, he has his brief moments of mild temper (being "snappish") and is occasionally a little moody, but he's certainly not a depressed or angry person.

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For long term effects, kids inherit the destructive nature of their parents towards relationship and marriage, and they are most likely to also undergo divorce.
Only time will tell if he ends up divorced (only time will tell if he even ends up married), but his approach to relationships thus far has been anything but "destructive".

These things might be more common in children of divorced parents, but it's not like a divorce is a guarantee that they'll happen. The two most messed up of ds1's peers (fairly lengthy juvenile criminal records, both expelled before they were 16, etc.) both come from "intact" families.

Studies on divorce, by necessity, fail to account for the nature of the parent's marriage pre-divorce. There is no way to account for what would have happened with the children from those particular marriages if the divorce hadn't happened, because the divorce did happen.

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Old 07-20-2010, 02:10 PM
 
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I would not say it screws them up, but it messes with children. Plus, rarely are divorced people nice to each other. They tend to drag the children in to it. It is extremely hard on children to not really have a home, but rather have two places they visit.
I agree.

I have friends who are wary adults because their parents divorced..... they either never married as grown-ups or have gone on to marry and divorce just as their parents did. I have nieces and nephews from split homes now and they are not nice kids. They are mean, demanding and do not respect parent /child boundaries.
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Old 07-20-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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I think you should probably point out here that this isn't universal, yk? I had ds1 seeing a counselor as soon as my ex and I split up. I felt he needed someone he could talk to who wasn't directly involved with the breakup. He never exhibited any signs of depression or anger. And, honestly, at 17, he has his brief moments of mild temper (being "snappish") and is occasionally a little moody, but he's certainly not a depressed or angry person.
I would think anger and depression are probably two of the most normal responses for a kid to have. Perhaps because you were proactive, in finding a counselor for your child, he was able to work through his feelings constructively. Or perhaps because your divorce was so necessary, he truly had no negative feelings about the process. But I am a little surprized that you think two fairly common emotions are not the norm when a childs family situation has had a dramatic change?
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Old 07-20-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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I agree.

I have friends who are wary adults because their parents divorced..... they either never married as grown-ups or have gone on to marry and divorce just as their parents did. I have nieces and nephews from split homes now and they are not nice kids. They are mean, demanding and do not respect parent /child boundaries.
As an adult with divorced parents, who knows adults with divorced parents, that has not been my experience. I know very few people who come from divorced parents who are demanding or do not respect parent/child boundaries. I know very few who have never married. The reason of course being that each person will have different experiences, and the people you know may have other aspects of their relationship with their parents that affected them. Or the divorce was less pleasant than the one my parents and my friends parents went through. Maybe the area they live in has a high level of stigma associated with divorce and it negatively affected the children, and the adults they became. Maybe, just maybe, things are far more complex than "divorced parents vs. non-divorced parents."

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I would think anger and depression are probably two of the most normal responses for a kid to have. Perhaps because you were proactive, in finding a counselor for your child, he was able to work through his feelings constructively. Or perhaps because your divorce was so necessary, he truly had no negative feelings about the process. But I am a little surprized that you think two fairly common emotions are not the norm when a childs family situation has had a dramatic change?
I don't think she said they aren't the norm... In fact I think she said

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These things might be more common in children of divorced parents, but it's not like a divorce is a guarantee that they'll happen.
That being said, when my parents divorced I felt anger and depression but it had nothing to do with the divorce and everything to do with events that no one could have seen that happened after the divorce. In fact, it took a long time for my parents to figure out what was/did happen after the divorce because they assumed exactly what you are saying, that the anger and depression had to do with the divorce.

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Old 07-20-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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As an adult with divorced parents, who knows adults with divorced parents, that has not been my experience. I know very few people who come from divorced parents who are demanding or do not respect parent/child boundaries.
I think she meant the nieces and nephews (and who I assume are currently children) are the ones who are mean, demanding and unable to respect parent child boundaries.

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Old 07-20-2010, 08:17 PM
 
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Further on the subject of learning destructive patterns of relationships...I'm divorced. My parents are divorced. So, I guess that fits into the pattern, except:

1) I was with my ex-husband, and already planning to marry him, for about five years before my parents actually divorced. Their divorce had nothing to do with what melted down my marriage, which was

2) I married a guy who was a lot like my dad. I didn't know I'd done it, and I was actually deliberately looking for someone who wasn't. However, my ex is an exceptionally good con man, and had me completely suckered until we were actually living together, married and expecting a baby.

So, I married a guy who was immature, irresponsible (especially with money, but in other ways, as well) and incredibly dishonest. I did that, because those were traits I was comfortable with on some levels, having grown up with them. I've often suspected that if my parents had split up earlier, I'd have been less likely to make a bad first marriage myself.

Correlation does not equal causation and we simplyl don't have enough real knowledge about the families involved in these situations. When I hear stories of the "my friend's friend got a divorce, and her husband dropped off the map, and their son is a ball of rage" type, I conclude that having a selfish parent and being abandoned by said parent messed the son up, not the fact that his parents split up.

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Old 07-20-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:20 PM
 
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I agree.

I have friends who are wary adults because their parents divorced..... they either never married as grown-ups or have gone on to marry and divorce just as their parents did. I have nieces and nephews from split homes now and they are not nice kids. They are mean, demanding and do not respect parent /child boundaries.
Well, my parents have been married 30+ years, my mom was a SAH mom to five.... and I'm a divorced, gay, f/t working mom to 2.

As to your neices and nephews - I'm sorry they're such a mean and demanding lot. My two daughters are the most calm, loving and compassionate kids I know.

So much of this is anecdotal.

I maintain that my divorce has had and will have minimal impact on my kids. They have two healthy and happy parents who they have regular contact with, a stable home life and a loving step-parent.

It's really been a win-win.

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Old 07-20-2010, 09:58 PM
 
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I agree.

I have friends who are wary adults because their parents divorced..... they either never married as grown-ups or have gone on to marry and divorce just as their parents did. I have nieces and nephews from split homes now and they are not nice kids. They are mean, demanding and do not respect parent /child boundaries.
And I have a friend who flits from meaningless relationship to meaningless relationship because her parents DIDN'T divorce and to her "marriage" means a stifling, loveless, anger-filled union where the woman has to give up all her dreams. There are plenty of examples in which divorce was terrible for kids, but there are also plenty of examples where parents staying in volatile, abusive, or loveless marriages was bad for kids.

I think the point is that you simply CAN'T generalize. No matter what the statistics say, every relationship and every family dynamic is different. Personally, I suspect that the way the parents handle the divorce is probably more important than the fact of the divorce.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:10 PM
 
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Does divorce really screw up kids?.
No, but step-parents sure do!! (in my own personal experience)
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:21 PM
 
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No, but step-parents sure do!! (in my own personal experience)
Not all step parents. My dad's second wife (my first step-mom) is the woman who is in every way except biology, my mom. She didn't screw me up in anyway. Nor have any other other step parents I have had over the years. My current step parents are both awesome people.

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Old 07-20-2010, 10:22 PM
 
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Personally, I suspect that the way the parents handle the divorce is probably more important than the fact of the divorce.
This is my feeling, as well. You stated it much more succinctly than I did, though!

And, actually...I think it could also be said that the way parents handle their marriage is more important than the marriage itself.

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Old 07-20-2010, 10:23 PM
 
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I think when the question is "does divorce really screw up kids," particularly in reference to low conflict marriages, it's unlikely that there will be many responses from divorced parents saying it does. I'm certain that both of my parents, particularly my father who wanted the divorce, would say that it did not seriously screw up their kids. They'd each say that for different reasons though. My dad because he's completely oblivious to how his actions affected everyone else and my mom because it would make her feel guilty. Everything is fine. We all came out if on top. Blah, blah, blah.
My parents would say it too, for no other reason than it's true.

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Old 07-20-2010, 10:24 PM
 
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I'm certain that both of my parents, particularly my father who wanted the divorce, would say that it did not seriously screw up their kids. They'd each say that for different reasons though. My dad because he's completely oblivious to how his actions affected everyone else...
This is kind of what I mean, though. If a parent is oblivious to how his or her actions affect everyone else, including their kids, what's life going to be like growing up with that parent? Living with someone who is all about their own stuff, and can't be bothered with how that stuff affects their children, isn't good for kids, either.

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Old 07-20-2010, 10:28 PM
 
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:31 PM
 
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My parents would say it too, for no other reason than it's true.
And you said yourself that your parents marriage was anything but low conflict.
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:43 PM
 
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I think the point is that you simply CAN'T generalize. No matter what the statistics say, every relationship and every family dynamic is different. Personally, I suspect that the way the parents handle the divorce is probably more important than the fact of the divorce.
I agree 100%.

My own anecdata is that my parents did a lot of things wrong when they divorced (Immediately: father moved in and married girlfriend who had no idea how to deal with kids and is a very selfish person, mother moved us away from all friends, pretty far from our dad, started us in new schools, she let her resentment and issues spill over into daily life, said bad things about our father, etc.) I had some very rough years as a teen that definitely would have been solved by more attentive parenting, but I turned out okay and have a wonderful marriage. My sister, on the other had, is a complete wreck and the fallout from the divorce played a major part in that. She has undiagnosed personality disorder/mental illness and it should have been caught, treated and carefully dealt with during childhood. It's too late, now.

That said...DIVORCE didn't cause those issues. My parent's choices did.

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