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Should We Stay Together For The Kids?

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Staying together for the kids?

Divorce is a terrible dilemma many couples face. On the one hand it is horrendous to think you are going to inflict the pain of separation onto your children. On the other hand you don’t want your children to live endlessly in a world of conflict and chaos. It may feel like you can’t win. Many therapists encourage couples to seek help and work on their marriage before giving up. If both parties are willing to try, it is possible in some cases with the help of good counselling to resolve differences and save the family. Working on yourself can never hurt and If there are past issues affecting the relationship, you might well take those same issues with you to the next relationship.

However, according to therapist Jeff Palitz, MFT, there is no reason to believe that staying together at any cost is better for children than divorcing. In fact, when parents who engage in unhealthy relationship habits stay together "for the kids" it can often do more harm than good. The behaviours you display in your home will set the stage for how your children will behave as adults. They learn what it means to be married, how to be a husband or wife and how to effectively (or ineffectively) deal with conflict in a relationship.

It is not necessarily divorce itself that determines whether or not your kids will be ok, but rather how each adult behaves during and after the divorce. Remember, divorce is not an isolated event - it unfolds over many years. Parents who can remain civil, avoid bad-mouthing and blaming each other, work together to create unified parenting strategies and give their children consistent time, attention and reassurance have a very good chance of seeing their kids grow up just as happy and healthy as those of healthy intact couples.

Ultimately, the bottom line is this: unhappy parents do not tend to raise happy children. And unhealthy relationships that "stay together for the kids" when the marriage is destructive tend to produce children who have unhealthy relationships as adults


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