Divorce and Children: Things To Consider When
You're Staying Married Only For Your Children
By Karl Augustine
All children are different and respond differently
to divorce. Depending on the characteristics
of the children - age, emotional maturity, happiness,
resiliency to trauma - the easier or more difficult
it will be for children to weather a divorce.
As a parent, you should know your children better
than anyone. Use your best judgment with your
children during considering divorce. This "divorce
and children" article is for parents who
are certain that they would get a divorce if
they didn't have children and want to decide
what to think about regarding the effects a divorce
would have on their children.
Children of divorced parents can actually live
wonderful lives as long as the parents use proper
judgment and create the right types of interactions
between themselves and with each other.
This article does not suggest that divorce is
the correct course of action for you and it in
no way should be taken as a form of counseling
to you. This article is merely to spark you to
think logically and then make your own decision
about divorce and your children.
As previously stated, every child is different
and, subsequently, every child responds to divorce
in a different way.
If you think there's a definitive answer about
how divorce affects children, you are mistaken.
There have been hundreds of books written about
this subject and a plethora of studies done regarding
divorce and children, all citing differing opinions
and using different statistical constraints and
inputs. But statistics can only go so far --
if you know your children better than anyone
else, you will know best how they'll be affected
by a divorce.
How divorce affects children and what you should
do if you're staying married solely because you
have children is a complicated issue.
Here's some things you may want to consider if
you're a parent who is staying married just because
you have children:
1. Make sure that you are, in fact, only staying
married just because you have children.
Often people use the children as an excuse not
to get a divorce because they aren't really sure
that they want a divorce or have some other fear
regarding divorce. Those fears can be present
due to finance, self-confidence, living arrangements
or other personal issues.
Before you really take the next steps in deciding
whether or not to get a divorce because of your
children, rank your reasons for divorce and make
sure that you're really certain you'd get a divorce
if you didn't have children.
2. Make sure 'guilt' isn't the real reason that
you aren't getting a divorce.
The 'guilt' referenced above is the guilt brought
on by thinking that your divorce will hurt your
children. In and of itself, this feeling of guilt
is a selfish one if you haven't really examined
carefully if a divorce will have an adverse effect
on your children. If you aren't getting divorced
because of guilt in this regard but you still
have an unhappy marriage that is affecting your
children, then you aren't really staying married
for them. You're staying married for you because
you feel guilty. This is selfish.
3. Once you've clearly defined that you are,
in fact, not getting a divorce solely because
you have children, examine why you think divorce
will adversely affect your children.
Remember, divorce can have a negative effect
on children initially, but that doesn't necessarily
mean that a divorce will be a negative influence
on your children forever.
Decide whether or not your children have the
resiliency, the intelligence, the emotional health
and the support they'd need to mitigate the adverse
effects that a divorce would have on them. Will
they be happy after the initial shock of the
divorce is worked through?
4. Once you've really defined what you believe
to be negative effects on your children due to
divorce, think about what your children's life
will be like in the immediate and distant future
if you do actually go through with the divorce.
Ask yourself, "Can I create and maintain
a healthy environment for my children if I do
get a divorce?"
One thing that is a critical factor in this decision
is the feasibility of you and your spouse getting
a divorce amicably. If you and your spouse can
go through a divorce amicably and you both can
agree to always put your children's welfare above
your own, you will be one step ahead.
Again, make sure you are certain a divorce is
necessary to create the right type of environment
for your children. Assure that there is absolutely
no way you can rekindle your marriage.
Usually, divorce represents the first real trauma
of a child's life. Keep this in mind when making
your divorce decision. Divorce is a serious step
and nothing should be done until you're certain
that divorce is the best course of action. Getting
a divorce without making sure that divorce is
the right thing is selfish on your part and is
the wrong thing to do to your children...after
all, they deserve your best effort!
One thing should remain constant -- that you
and your spouse will always be there for your
children, no matter what.
Karl Augustine is the author of "A Practical
Guide To Deciding Whether Or Not To Get A Divorce."
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