Staying Together For The Children

Krista - posted on 03/11/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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This is a follow-up to the debate about having a baby to save the marriage. I've seen and heard of many situations where a marriage is basically broken beyond repair, but the couple stays together "for the children".

What are your thoughts on this? Is it always best for the couple to stay together, to have the mother and father in the same household for the kids? (Obviously I'm not talking about abusive marriages here, just ones that aren't working anymore.) Does that teach the child a lesson in commitment? Or does it give them a distorted view of what marriage is supposed to be?

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Lisamarie - posted on 03/12/2010

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I agree with Kendra, my parents seperated when I was 6 months and divorced soon after. (my mum cheated on my dad with my Godfather married him, long story) All I remember is growing up with my mum and step-dad (who, btw, I LOVE and get on better with than my biological father) and I saw my dad when it suited him (still do, haven't seen him in 5 months) I was never told that my mum cheated until my brother, who lived with my dad, told me! I was always told my mum and dad fell out of love and I was OK with that. I wasn't annoyed at my mum (I know what she did was wrong and will never agree with that) I was more annoyed at my brother for bursting my pretty bubble!
I have always known that, although my dad is still in love with my mum after 21 years (though he is remarried to a B***H) I would never have liked to grow up with my mum and dad as a family and love that I have extended family and my mum is happy.
Ultimately, I do not agree with staying together for the children and would, personally, be horrified to find out that my husband was only with me for that reason! We always talk about this and have agreed never to do that. We are together because we love each other and our children see that, sure we argue but if we ever got to the point where we were sad more than happy we would have to end it for the SAKE of our children. I'm 21 and can't stand people arguing around me, why should our children have to put up with that from their own parents. Happy parents = happy children!! :)

Kendra - posted on 03/12/2010

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I got divorced when my kids were 2 and 4 and I wanted it that way. I wanted to do it while they were too young to really understand. Yes, they couldn't go a whole week without seeing one of us so you don't do that to them. We still have split weeks and I love our schedule :o) But I'm glad I did it when they were little. They don't remember us together, this is the norm. They don't remember all the fighting. All they remember is what they see now and that they've always had 2 homes. We get along really well now and I know that helps A LOT but I think them being so young also helps with how well adjusted they are.

So, NO, I would never say stay for the kids but I do agree with just about everyone to try to make it work first. Ultimately though, your kids are happy if you are happy.

[deleted account]

Every situation is unique but in most cases I don't believe that staying together benefits the children in the long run!



Sunny : Funny you bring up Dr. Phil and the whole resentment thing........my next door neighbors and close family friend growing up stayed together for the sake of their children! They each had seperate relationships and lives but were home each night to care for the children.....once the kids were grown, shortly after their youngest daughter graduated highschool they agreed that they were gonna finally tell the children and seperate! I remember that youngest daughter, Leigh-Ann ( a good friend of mine right thru highschool ) crying to me telling me something was goin on with her parents and she suspected her dad was cheating.......at the time of course no one knew what was goin on but I'm here to say from experience, not only did those children suffer throught their teenage years but now as adults they don't have a very good relationship with either parent because they feel betrayed, insulted and dooped for lack of a better word and all because their parents thought they were doing the best thing! The parents were amicable through all those years because they had agreed to move on but didn't give their children the same opportunity to grieve and move on! Kinda sad!



There's sooo many reasons why parents shouldn't stay together for the sake of a child! That being said, it's important to make every effort to try and work it out!

Christy - posted on 03/11/2010

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@Krista: i guess i am thinking more along the lines of the parents being very amicable towards each other, just perhaps having the child in between while watching a movie or not giving off any PDA (my parents didn't do a lot of PDA and i'm still okay with affection and whatnot). and the age of grasping a divorce...i was going more along the lines of 5 or 6 rather than 2 or 3 so that the child doesn't think one parent was just...gone. i know right now my little girl wouldn't understand why she couldn't see mommy or daddy for a week at a time but by the time they are school age you can explain that mommy and daddy can't live together anymore but you will still get to spend lots of time with each of them. not that it would make it loads easier or anything but at least they wouldn't think they were being abandoned in any way (not that kids living through divorce feel abandoned but we can't know for sure how babies and toddlers understand it).



i'm sure this would be coming more from the land of idealism than real world unfortunately...

Sunny - posted on 03/11/2010

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NO, no, no ,no ,no! As a child from a divorce i can tell you that it is insulting for a child. They are not stupid they no when feelings are gone and to quote Doctor Phil "children would rather be from a broken home, then live in one" it is so true. Dont insult childrens intelligence because they end up resenting parents later in life. Child want their parents to be happy, if being apart makes that happen than that is the best path, dont put on a fake show, they can see straight through it and it does no good for anyone.

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Celia - posted on 03/12/2010

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stay togeather to model your screwed up relationship to your children till they think its normal and copy it later in life...
it may not even be a war zone, just a cold zone to show your kids that passion and romance is not needed in a marriage.
I hate the for the kids excuse... its just a way of prolonging the talk and the tears. Get it over with and prevent long term harm to your kids and spare their future parteners too!!

Isobel - posted on 03/12/2010

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I tried everything. When my ex and I got married I found out two weeks before the wedding that he had cheated on me and was having a baby with another woman. I shoul've left then but I was pregnant myself and we had bought a house AND the invitations were already out.



I decided to give it a go and he promised to go to marriage counseling, I insisted that he go and see the other baby (though he didn't) and I stayed and even had another baby, but by then he was verbally abusive and nasty. I actually thought about staying with him and just living a separate life (ignoring his existence would've been way easier than leaving).



Then when my second was about 8 or 9 months old, he came to me and told me he had cheated again (and that he had to confess because he thought her boyfriend was going to kill him ROFLMAO)



I actually finally decided to leave for the sake of the children. I could've stayed but then they would have believed that that was what was normal...Eve would've expected to be repeatedly cheated on, and Quentin would've had no respect for women.



I believe that once you know that divorce in inevitable...it is your responsibility to do it as quickly and as cleanly as possible. The older they are the worse it is.



PS...now that other baby comes over for sleepovers quite often and her mother and I are friends (kinda) so that our children would grow up knowing each other even when their father is being a dead beat (he goes in and out)

Christy - posted on 03/12/2010

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@Kendra: i think the way you and your ex do things is the best possible way to make a divorce easier on the kids. i think it's sad that more people don't do it that way. in every situation i've been around it's been 1 week on, 1 week off no matter the age of the child/children involved. i'm glad that you can be an example of putting your children first through everything.

[deleted account]

What an interesting story Krista.......a perfect example of ' the exception rule '! There's ALWAYS gonna be that exception! Thanks for sharing! Glad it worked out!



Lisamarie : you said it best! Happy parent = happy children!

Krista - posted on 03/12/2010

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Actually, I sort of have a weird example of parents being together for the sake of the children.

My dad and my stepmom split up when my half-brother was about 10 years old. He was living with my dad. He's deaf, and at the time had really bad OCD, and was a major challenge. My ex-stepmom was having a hard time making ends meet living on her own.

So, after a few years of this, my dad and my ex-stepmom (who had remained on excellent terms and were good friends), decided that she would move in as a roommate, so that she could save on rent and so that my brother could benefit from having two parents there.

This arrangement lasted until he was about 17, and my ex-stepmom met someone else and moved out. But strangely, the arrangement worked beautifully. Everybody was very adult about it all, and my brother understood that his parents weren't getting back together, but that they were now good friends.

Just goes to show you that families aren't one-size-fits-all, and that kids can be a lot more flexible than we think when it comes to unconventional family arrangements.

[deleted account]

Sorry to hear about ur struggles Sunny! After something like that happens I would imagine that it would be tough to trust ur instincts; always wondering if ur doin the right thing, or what's going on back.....second guessing urself!?? My guess is that it makes you question everything you thought you knew to be true.......lots of trust issues!? It's almost like ur mom cheated on you?

Anyhow, I can relate......hope it all works out?!!! Take care

Sunny - posted on 03/11/2010

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Dana- I my mum did a similar thing, my parents split but i never knew they were seeing other people, even to the point where i had other siblings i didnt know about. Then my mum announced that she was 7 months pregnant to a man id never met and this is all meant to be for the good of the children?...sigh.... My mum says she still thinks that she was doing the right thing, personally i dont understand why parents cant sit down and have a conversation with their children, it may be hard at first but like you said dana, its easier to grieve and move on than spend years over analyzing and questioning what you thought you knew.

Krista - posted on 03/11/2010

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i think as long as they still get along people should stay together as friends for their kid's sakes, at least until the children are old enough to fully grasp the concept of a divorce.


Do you really think that's better for the kids, though? My folks split when I was 8. My sister was 13. She took it a LOT harder than I did, because she fully grasped the concept of a divorce. I've seen adults who find out their parents are splitting up who are just devastated by it, and little kids who just sort of shrug and go, "okay".

I don't know...I just think that the approach you espouse is sort of counter-productive. You'd have a kid growing up whose parents show absolutely no affection towards each other, which would probably make him/her very uncomfortable with physical displays of affection as an adult, and then you're going to yank the rug out from under them after years of this?

My own opinion is this: do your best to fix it. Get counselling, get help, work your asses off to repair and save your marriage. BUT, if you've tried everything and it's just not working, then end it quickly, cleanly, and with as little acrimony as possible. Faking a marriage for the kids only backfires, because then as soon as the parents do split up (usually when the kids have left home), the kids figure out what has been going on -- that the parents were only staying together for their sake, and haven't loved each other in years. That's a lot of guilt to put on your child.

Carolee - posted on 03/11/2010

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My parents did something similar to this, and I've always hated it. They "stayed together for the children until they both were in school". I went to Kindergarten, and my dad moved out. My mom got a job, and it was suddenly just us three. I personally would have rather not think of going to school as my dad's signal for "freedom". So, naturally, I'm totally against staying together "for the kids"!

Christy - posted on 03/11/2010

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i think it depends on the reason for divorce. these days divorce is no big deal to people and i think since it's becoming the norm people don't try as hard as they should to make it work when there are children involved. personally i don't think "falling out of love" is a good reason to get a divorce. i think as long as they still get along people should stay together as friends for their kid's sakes, at least until the children are old enough to fully grasp the concept of a divorce.

Sarah - posted on 03/11/2010

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Hmmmmm, well it used to be that i would automatically say NEVER stay to together for the kids.
My parents divorced.......twice!! It was definitely the best decision, and it made me completely adamant that i would never stay with someone for the kids sake, as i know from personal experience that separating can be the best option. (although i hoped i would stick to the decision and not go through 2 divorces!! lol)

However, now i actually am married and have kids, my thinking is a little different.
My husband and i have had our fair share of problems, i've left him twice (though only for a week each time) I would bet good money that if we hadn't got the kids we would have gone our separate ways by now.
Being married and having kids has given me more of a reason to fight for our relationship though. Where i once would have just left, now i just tried harder to make it work. I'm REALLY glad i did too!! I'm perfectly happy now, and i'm really glad we fought through the hard times.

I do totally understand though that some relationships just can't be saved, like my parents. It's a tough call for anyone to make, i guess you just follow your instincts. :)

Lindsay - posted on 03/11/2010

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I don't think that people should stay together for the children but I do think people should put effort into trying to repair a relationship and get it back to good if there are children involved. Either extreme is difficult for a child. So I think that the adults should do whatever they can and get whatever help they can to see if a relationship can be saved. Now if after doing that, it's still not a good situation, they should move on.

Patricia - posted on 03/11/2010

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Well Krista, I divorced my first husband after 22 years...and the divorce affected both my children who at the time were 9 and 12. I use to be a parent that thought people should stay together for the children...However, after years past, and I met a new...the very first time we ever fought, my eldest stepped in and said.."Please, no more fighting...you and my father split because of all the fighting and I don't want to hear it again." That being said, it was than that I realized I did do what was right for my children rather than wrong. And even though my children suffered some through the divorce, I believe they would have suffered more had I stayed in a marriage that had some how gotten to the point of anger...my children didn't need to hear that every day either. I don't think it gives them a false sense of hope in a relationship, I believe they put more thought into a relationship because of it...how to communicate and what makes a relationship fail...after almost 6 years, I still hurt for my children. It's something I myself did not want to put them through, but felt the alternative would have been far worse for them. So, I guess if two people are not happy, they have to either fix it or move on...ESPECIALLY for the children

Lady - posted on 03/11/2010

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I think that having children means that you should try harder to make it work - go to councelling, talk, make more of an effort with each other that sort of thing, but if you have tried everything and it's still not working then it's best for the kids to split up - living in a war zone is not a good environment for anybody.

Sara - posted on 03/11/2010

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I think it will do more harm than good for a child to have to live in a house with a set of parents who hate one another.

I have a friend, really nice guy, who has serious problems with marriage to this day, because he grew up with a mom and dad who were strangers to one another, didn't share a bedroom, hardly spoke to one another and only stayed together because they thought it would be better for the children. Yeah, it didn't work, because he's totally f-ed up in the head when it comes to relationships now. I wouldn't want to do that to my child. At least if you separate or divorce they have the potential to see you in a healthier place.

Cynthia - posted on 03/11/2010

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If you are not happy do NOT stay together "for the children" you'll just screw them up even more!!

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