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Should You Stay Together for the Sake of the Children?

The decision to divorce when children are involved is one of the toughest choices an individual must make. Divorce is never easy – it tends to bring out the worst in people.   And there is no doubt about it – divorce is always stressful for children. So should you stay together for the sake of the children? 

divorce counseling for childrenResearch shows that children do best growing up in a happily married family environment. Research also shows that children tend to do much better after divorce from a high-conflict marriage environment. Interestingly, these studies also found that children did worse after divorce if their parents’ marriage was low-conflict, indicating that these low-conflict marriages may have been good enough for their children. This makes the decision to divorce that much more difficult and couples must consider their choice carefully.

In the end, no couple should stay together at all cost “for the children’s sake.” As a matter of fact, parents who stay together for the children can often do more harm than good as the children see their unhappy parents participate in unhealthy relationship behaviors. Your interactions will teach your children how to behave when they are in a relationship. By watching and observing you day in and day out, they learn what it means to be a couple, how to be married and how to deal with conflict in a relationship. You may think that your interactions don’t have an effect on your children because “we don’t fight in front of them” or “they don’t know what’s really going on”, but rest assured, your children likely know. Your behaviors, your messages and your interactions take root in your children making it very likely that your children will repeat the same behaviors they have witnessed in their home while growing up.

Studies have found that divorce clearly increases the risk of psychological and behavior problems in children that can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Disobedience
  • Rule violation
  • Poor school performance

However, it’s important to note that most children do not develop serious emotional or psychological problems. When a divorce is handled in a mature, cooperative manner, children tend to be fine in the end although they most likely will experience periods of pain and worry about the divorce, their relationship with their parents and their parents relationship with each other. During times of major changes, such as a divorce, children may experience feelings that are confusing and scary. Quite often, support from parents is all that the child needs to adjust. However, some children may benefit from a counselor or therapist at this point in time.

Studies repeatedly show that it is not the divorce itself that determines how well your children will fare, but instead it is how the parents of the child behave while going through the divorce, as well as post divorce.

So should you stay together for the sake of the kids? The decision is a difficult one, but the end result is this: children who are raised by unhappy parents are rarely happy themselves.

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