You’ve probably done a few Google searches and been scared to death by a barrage of articles and propaganda warning you that if you file for divorce your children will end up meth-addicted, tattooed, juvenile delinquents that will never be able to hold down a job or a marriage of their own. Mostly that’s out dated knee jerk reaction-ism at best that’s rooted in basic child psychiatry. Of course uprooting a child and shaking up their known family dynamic isn’t the easiest thing in the world on a kid, but long term studies have shown that divorce doesn’t cause kids to grow into dysfunctional adults.
What childhood trauma IS most likely to cause dysfunction later in life? Try growing up with constant family conflict. If your marriage is full of endless days of yelling, screaming, or even worse, abuse, then it’s no use hanging in for the kids. You might be doing more harm than good by staying together.
As it turns out, what children need more than a married mommy and daddy is stability, love and support. A predictably safe and nurturing environment that is not full of stressful complications and constant fighting is far more important to childhood happiness than matrimony. This is a more straight forward example of when divorce is less damaging than staying together, unfortunately it’s not always that cut and dry.
When things really get confusing for children of divorce is when the family life seemed to be going along just fine and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, they are sat down by mom and dad and told that they aren’t going to be family any more. This usually happens when one spouse finds out the other has been unfaithful and that spouse might also be feeling a little lost and confused at the time. Marriage counseling may be an option while the couple is separated and the child watches helplessly as the fate of their family plays out. This can cause periods of stress, depression, insomnia or acting out by the children while the issues are resolved. In time, only the parents can decide if they can still live together and what is best for themselves and their children.
Regardless, there are always steps you can take to ensure that your child makes it through your divorce with their functionality intact. With the love and support of both parents, and maybe a little family counseling, all children of divorce can make it through these uncertain times.