does divorce really screw up kids? - Page 6 - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-20-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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My parents were in a low-conflict marriage. Or at least I assume that b/c I don't remember any yelling, arguing, fighting, nothing of the sort. I remember my dad moving out (at my mother's demand, but I didn't know that at the time) and I remember when she told me they were getting divorced.

I have no negative memories surrounding the divorce, which occured when I was 8. My dad was (and is) amazing. He would come see my sister and I every day after work and take us on Thursday night and every other weekend. I never felt as if I was "visiting" two places. I had 2 homes.

My parents both remarried within a year or so after the divorce was final. Along with my new step-father (whom I've never LOVED, but always liked and respected) I got 2 step-brothers. I moved in with my dad and step-mother (who has been like my mother, for all intents and purposes) when I was 11 and my half-sister came along a year later. I was in the room when she was born and got to cut the cord. : I've never thought of her as my half-sister; she's just my sister.

I say all of that to say: I'm fine. My sister is fine too. I'm not convinced divorce in and of itself is damaging. I sure don't have any negative feelings surrounding it. I can't say that I want to get divorced, but I'm in a super happy marriage.

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Old 07-20-2010, 11:14 PM
 
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But even if your parents divorced sooner, your dad would still have been your dad and you still would have grown up knowing those same traits except you would have had the divorce to deal with too.
Yes, but she would have grown up in an environment in which marriage to someone with those traits was not OK. It makes a difference how the behavior is modeled: is it tolerated and thus internalized by the child as the way things are, or is it changed because the other parent believes that living with such behavior is damaging, and models that belief for their child?

I grew up with an alcoholic father and married an alcoholic. I swore I never would, and yet I did. I'll never know, but I believe that if my mother had chosen not to live with my father when I was younger, I would not have been quite so comfortable with the personality traits that ultimately defined my late husband as well.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:39 AM
 
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:15 PM
 
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I remember hearing something on NPR about a study that found that it often wasn't the divorce itself that was most damaging to kids; it was the relationships that parents had after the divorce that could be potentially damaging.

The study found that single parents who have a series of relationships (or marriages) after a divorce have unhappier children than those who stayed single or those who eventually remarry only once. The swiftness and number of new relationships seemed to be the thing that was hardest on kids.

I have no personal experience with this, but I thought it was an interesting P.O.V.

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:16 PM
 
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Uh, I still had to live him both literally and figuratively.
I'm sorry for that. But, the bottom line is that the biggest problem was that you had a parent who was oblivious to how his own actions affected other people. A parent who doesn't even consider the potential impact of divorce on his/her children isn't parenting in those children's best interests. It's not about the divorce.

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:24 PM
 
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But even if your parents divorced sooner, your dad would still have been your dad and you still would have grown up knowing those same traits except you would have had the divorce to deal with too.
The divorce to deal with, too? You mean, he would have been out of the house, and my mom wouldn't have been trying to find the emotional energy to raise three children, while coping, day in/day out, with the crap that came along with having my dad in the house?? I used to cry into my pillow wishing my mom and dad would split up, because my mom was so unhappy that it hurt me to see it. My parent's marriage was probably "low conflict" in the way many people mean it, but my mom was obviously unhappy, and that carries its own burden for kids.

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Yes, but she would have grown up in an environment in which marriage to someone with those traits was not OK. It makes a difference how the behavior is modeled: is it tolerated and thus internalized by the child as the way things are, or is it changed because the other parent believes that living with such behavior is damaging, and models that belief for their child?

I grew up with an alcoholic father and married an alcoholic. I swore I never would, and yet I did. I'll never know, but I believe that if my mother had chosen not to live with my father when I was younger, I would not have been quite so comfortable with the personality traits that ultimately defined my late husband as well.
This. The things I considered "normal", even while hating them, were unhealthy. If I weren't living in them, I wouldn't have considered them "normal".

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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But it's not always an either/or situation...either the parents stay together and are miserable and set a crap example for their kids or they get divorced. There's often a place in the middle where they each can decide to put their big kid panties on and quit thinking about their own personal happiness so much and figure out a way to make their family work for everyone even if it means just being content and not being blissed out happy because honestly chasing that kind of happiness is a fantasy anyway, and they likely won't find it even if they split up. Like the old saying goes, there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.
I actually agree with this completely - but that's not about the divorce, as such. That's about parents who need to grow the freak up. If they're not going to "put on their big kid panties', then staying together or divorcing isn't really the issue. The issue is the lack of "big kid panties".

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Unless he remarried and she saw it modeled in his new relationship or her mom found someone just as bad or worse. Divorce doesn't change who the parents are.
As for this...my mom was/is someone who was very concerned about her kids, and thought that divorce would be too hard on them, so she stayed. She did remarry eventually, and her husband is my children's favourite, and most involved, grandfather (my FIL is awesome, too, but he lives far away from here). They see my dad a couple times a year, if I make the effort...because he won't.

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Old 07-21-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:14 PM
 
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Don't be sorry. I'm glad I had my dad around. He tried to be a good father, but he simply didn't consider that a divorce could have any kind of profound impact on his kids and it seems many people agree with him. Nothing was because of the divorce but because of this that or the other. I think the divorce and that lack of consideration are tied together.
I don't know anybody, in this thread or elsewhere, who would never consider that a divorce could have a profound impact on a child...not ever. Nobody in this thread has said so, either, so I have no idea where you're getting that from. What we're saying is that divorce doesn't screw up kids. Some divorces screw up some kids and that depends on the nature of the divorce, the parents and the kids themselves.

Since I scheduled ds1 to see the school counsellor upon my divorce, it's fairly obvious that I knew it could have a profound effect on him. But, it didn't.

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I don't really consider that marriage low conflict then. You made it sound like your dad just had some undesirable traits not that there was that much turmoil in your family unless it was in an earlier post I missed. My point was you still would have known those traits with or without the divorce. The fact that there was such conflict in your family though takes it to a different level.
My dad is an alcoholic, but those traits (the irresponsibilty, immaturity, etc.) are 99.9% of what caused the conflict. The actual drinking wasn't that big a deal (and my stepdad drinks quite a lot, too). The point is that there wasn't much visible conflict. My mom was very unhappy. That's 99% (or more) of what I saw. (I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that your dad probably wasn't happy, either, or he wouldn't have wanted a divorce, yk?)

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Anyway, my sister and I had no idea my parent's marriage was problematic for either of them and so many of my friends had the same experience with their parent's divorce. None of us ever wished our parents split. So I am coming at this from a completely different POV.
I get that. But, whether you knew about it or not, there were problems, and you don't know how they would have played out.

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I think we're talking in circles on this issue or splitting hairs or something.
I don't think it's splitting hairs. I think that saying "divorce screws kids up" is a gross oversimplification of a very complicated issue. Divorce is a major life change. Major life changes are hard. We could just as easily say "moving screws kids up" (sometimes it does), but that doesn't make it that simple.

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I wasn't speculating about what actually happened in your specific case and no one has any idea what would have happened if the divorce happened sooner. I was just pointing out that just because parents divorce doesn't necessarily make the problems go away or change anyone. I know many people that have ended up right back in the same situation or worse after a divorce.
You're right. Nobody knows what would have happened if my parents had divorced sooner. But, nobody knows what would have happened if your parents hadn't divorced, either...or if my parents never had, or if a previous poster's BIL (think it was) hadn't abandoned her niece, etc. etc. etc. Nobody knows. But, we look at divorce stats and how the lives of the children from those homes turned out, and we say "divorce screws up kids".

Familes where the parents are divorced are all made up of families where at least one parents was unhappy - maybe it was abuse or addiction or maybe it was "just" selfishness, or maybe it was something else entirely, but at least one parent was unhappy. That parent was then either unhappy enough to take the step of ending the marriage, or selfish/immature/whatever enough to not even see that as a really big step (and yes, I do know someone like this, and her kids are well and truly on their way to "screwed up"...but it's not because she got a divorce). When looking at kids from divorced parents vs. non-divorced parents, we're looking at samples that were already different from each other before divorce ever entered the picture.

Divorce is a life change, and an upheaval. It doesn't, in and of itself, screw kids up. How it's handled screws kids up. Things that go on after the fact screw kids up. Things leading up to the divorce screw kids up. Simply making the decision to end it? Not so much...at least not as some kind of natural law.

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Old 07-21-2010, 11:49 PM
 
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