Divorce can wreak havoc on many parts of life. It’s expensive and time consuming, can drag up painful memories, cause bitter confrontation, bring about financial ruin, damage friendships, and of course, lead to chaos and confusion in the lives of the children whose parents are splitting.
But just how severely are these kids affected?
We may have a vague understanding that divorce is tough on kids, but looking at real comments from kids who live through it, we start to get an idea of how much damage is actually being done. The Huffington Post featured a collection of anonymous comments from the children of divorced parents, and they are as eye opening as they are heart wrenching.
While a few of them are understandable at the surface (like having to choose between parents’ houses for the holidays), the majority are about feelings of being torn between their fighting parents – being in the middle of arguments, being forced to “choose a side,” being pitted against one parent by the other, having to be the messenger or go-between, and not being able to see or speak to a parent they love because of living with the other.
The real problem here isn’t just that the kids have had to live through a divorce - it’s that after the split, they are continuing to get caught up in their parents’ ongoing feud.
Unfortunately, when parents get divorced, it’s very difficult – almost impossible – to “leave the kids out of it.” When a couple has children together, they can’t just walk away from the marriage unscathed – they have to at least stay in some kind of contact (most of the time) for the kids to be able to spend time with both parents.
When tensions are high and the wounds of the divorce (or even just a separation) haven’t healed, it can be tough for those parents to be civil with one another, or even talk civilly about each other to the child. Even if the parents are masters of holding their tongues, kids can tell when they aren’t getting along.
Combine that tension with bouncing back and forth between homes, general confusion about the nature of adult relationships, and having to explain the situation to friends or younger siblings – and we see that divorce is putting an extreme amount of pressure on children.
Now, “staying together for the kids” is not a healthy way to solve relationship issues. If your relationship is volatile and you aren’t getting along with your spouse, this is also a problematic and potentially damaging environment for youngsters. Instead of keeping your troubled marriage for the sake of the kids, use their wellbeing as a source of inspiration for improving the marriage you have.
If you know that your kids will be better off in a happy home with both parents present, you can use that sentiment to give momentum to your efforts to strengthen the marriage. It can be tough to admit problems and begin to work toward solutions, but perhaps knowing that it’s better for your young ones is the push you need to get started!
No child deserves to be forced between his or her fighting parents. Before you make the drastic decision of divorcing, put some effort into repairing your broken relationship for their sake – and for your own sake too.
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com