Staying Together For The Kids: Pros And Cons
The worst has happened – you finally got sick of your partner, and you’re ready to pack up your things and split. Only, during a time when you didn’t think your partner was the anti-Christ, you went and created a few adorable sproglets that have now put a spanner in the works.
You’re not alone. Recent studies suggest that around 40 – 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Many of them involve children.
It’s a tough call, deciding whether to stay together for them when your whole body is telling you to exit stage left. I’m willing to bet that many toxic marriages have persisted for just this reason – couples don’t want to disrupt their children’s lives with messy breakups.
Doing what’s best for your children should be your primary goal. This list of pros and cons of staying together for the kids should help you make that decision.
|Forced to work things out||Resentment towards your children|
|Kids have fewer behavioral problems||Animosity in the household|
|Financial stability||Might lead to domestic violence|
|Higher possibility that kids won’t divorce as adults||Children learn that misery is normal|
|Avoid separation woes|
|Supports the children’s education|
Forced to Work Things Out
Have you ever been close to making a rash decision that seemed like a good idea at the time, but after further deliberation you realized you just saved yourself from making a huge mistake?
Well, that’s what throwing in the towel on a long-term relationship could be. Maybe you need couples counseling – a third party to call you on your crap. Staying together for the kids forces you to try everything to make things work, which could be just the thing you need. Who knows, this could strengthen your relationship.
Kids Have Fewer Behavioral Problems
Any major disruption to a child’s routine can be catastrophic. If children are used to having both parents in the home, then one morning they wake to find Daddy gone and Greg the mailman in Mommy’s bed, they’re going to have a hard time with it.
Sometimes children can’t express how upset they are, so they become absolute terrors – answering back, playing up at school, that sort of thing. Staying together keeps mailmen out of other people’s beds, and ensures that children don’t start misbehaving as a way to express their discontent.
A two-parent household is always better than one, at least financially. Two incomes combined, paying just one set of bills means more money left over for the family. So little Josie can get those horse riding lessons she’s been raving about all year.
Where there is just one income, the stay-at-home parent gets to raise their children in peace, saving on daycare, safe in the knowledge that their partner has the bills covered.
Higher Possibility That Kids Won’t Divorce
Children are influenced by what they see, so even when they’re a million years old and ready to start their own families, their parents’ behavior during their childhood will inevitably impact their decisions.
If children see their parents staying together and working through their troubles, as opposed to taking the easy way out, it will encourage them to do the same as adults. If the word “divorce” is verboten – and merely uttering it punishable by death – your kids will hold it in the same regard when they grow up.
Another thing to note, and something that is rarely mentioned, is that not only will children be less hasty to divorce, they’re more likely to take extra care when choosing a mate. The heavily tattooed barmaid from the dive bar in town might look good to your adult son, but he’ll dodge that train wreck.
Avoid Separation Woes
Divorce is messy, like eating a jelly donut (if that donut is moldy and tastes like dog poo). No matter how hard people fight to make it amicable, someone inevitably comes out worse off.
When children are involved, things can get real nasty. Custody battles, visitation, who gets to stay in the family home vs who has to rent a studio apartment in a bad neighborhood, with windows that overlook a landfill site… Constantly having to spend parts of their weeks and vacations in different houses will cause major disruptions to your kids’ lives. Nasty, nasty stuff.
Staying together reduces those negative situations and emotions. Children won’t feel pressured to choose which parent is better (hint: it’ll be the one who feels more guilty and thus buys them everything they want); they won’t have to pick sides.
Supports the Children’s Education
This study mentioned on the BBC website shows that children from two-parent families perform better at school than those from single-parent households. They even have higher rates of high school graduation.
This goes back to the double income argument. More money, more resources. That sometimes means being able to afford to send kids to the best schools in the best neighborhoods, or hiring tutors.
If you choose to stay together, statistically, your children’s future career prospects are likely to be better than their counterparts raised in lone-parent households.
Resentment Towards Your Children
No matter how much you love your children, if you can’t stomach the sight of your partner and you’re forced to stay in a loveless marriage, you might start to resent them.
No one’s a saint; you’re only human. You may not want to resent anyone, but it’s inevitable. When we feel trapped and not in control of our lives, it’s only a matter of time before we lash out at the people responsible for our misery.
Animosity in the Household
You’ve seen Tom and Jerry, you know how destructive those two get when they’re forced to live under the same roof. It’s not pretty. And while they’re chasing each other around the house, breaking stuff, and trying to kill each other, they’re making everyone around them miserable (chief among them Mammy Two Shoes, the unfortunate soul).
Well, your children are Mammy Two Shoes. They’ll pick up on every negative word or feeling you and your partner exchange, and they’ll internalize them.
Misery loves company, so congratulations, now your kids are just as miserable as you are!
Might Lead to Domestic Violence
On the extreme end of things, staying together could lead to physical violence. I mean, if such a thing happens, the person doing harm was no good to begin with, and anything would have set them off eventually.
The point being, it puts everyone in the house at risk of abuse when a violent partner (usually the man) is kept there seemingly against his will. Sometimes it’s healthier and safer to separate, let someone go, no matter how their absence might affect the children. Keeping the kids safe should be the main focus.
Children Learn That Misery is Normal
You can put on as many brave faces and false smiles as you like, but your misery will show. Unless you’re Meryl Streep or Jack Nicholson, you’re not a good enough actor to pull that off 24/7. So it’s only a matter of time until your kids pick up on it.
When they do, and they see you guys sticking it out and hating every minute of it, they’ll get a flawed view of marriage and relationships. They’ll grow up thinking that this negativity is normal, which will affect the relationships they have as adults.
Despite there being more pros than cons, you might find that, given your circumstances, the cons far outweigh the pros in gravity.
You should always consider your own happiness in this, because if you are too miserable to go on, this would negatively impact your children. An unhappy parent does not a good parent make.
You and your partner should both carefully assess the situation and determine what’s in the best interests of your children – co-parenting or trying to salvage the relationship.