General Question

seazen's avatar

Divorce: a question about feelings, opinion and time?

Asked by seazen (6113points) December 16th, 2010

One in two couples are divorced. In some European countries, it’s even higher. This has been going on for some time now – perhaps from the 60’s with the advance of feminism (not blaming it).

Two or three generations take it for granted, yet, in my opinion, as opposed to other facets of human nature and (pop) psychology – we don’t seem to be able to “come to terms with it” – as children of divorced parents. It doesn’t seem to get any easier.

Children in 2010 seem to be as affected today as they might have been 50 years ago. A child will prefer a crack addict mom and jailbird dad (but “together” with or without the quotations) – to a lovely couple – living separately.

This is my opinion – what do you think?

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36 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I don’t think kids would rather have an unhappy together family. I do think that if their family is broken but happy, they still won’t stop wishing for that ideal family – that’s just who we are as a race. Doesn’t mean they’d trade their current situation for the crack addict/jailbird one.

SuperMouse's avatar

Since my own divorce I have devoured anything I can find on the impact of divorce on children. What I have read bears out your theory – almost all children want their parents to be together – no matter what. My parents were not divorced so I can’t relate to that feeling myself, but two of my three kids have made it clear that they would rather their father and I were still together.

I also agree that children today are as affected as they ever were. My hope is that divorced parents today are more sensitive to the impact divorce has on their kids and are more proactive in their attempts to mitigate the damage.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

I know my kids would be devastated if their mom and I split up.

tinyfaery's avatar

I begged my mother to divorce my dad, lots of times. My childhood probably would have been better had they divorced.

seazen's avatar

@SuperMouse Yes. I am the child of divorced parents, whose siblings are also divorced. I, too, am divorced, as are my siblings. I think 80% or more, mistakenly perhaps, would want their parents together.

SuperMouse's avatar

@seazen yep, that is what I have read and have seen in my kids and my (future) step children. They just want their parents together. My oldest son seems to be the exception. He says that he is glad we aren’t together anymore because it is a relief not to hear us arguing. A surprise statement to me because I thought we were arguing rather discreetly. Wrong!

The_Inquisitor's avatar

I’m not really sure how great it’d be to have a crack addict mom and jailbird dad… sounds like I’d want to move out…

But generally, yes, I think most children, if not all, would be affected and would love for their parents to stay together.. but usually when that doesn’t happen, life is still good. I and my sibling’s nightmare would probably be our parents breaking up. But, it is their choice if they do… I’d just be secretly against it.. =|

CaptainHarley's avatar

Divorce is very traumatic to the children of those divorcing, regardless of the age(s) of the child(ren). It’s that trauma which causes the problems, not so much the actual divorce itself. My own children have adapted rather well to their mother’s and my divorce, although it took almost three years to do so. Divorce is a complete disruption of the entire world of any children involved, and leaves them feeling as if they had simply been better children somehow, there would never have been a divorce. If one or the other parent distances themselves from the family after divorce, the problem is only compounded.

JLeslie's avatar

My sister and I used to wish my parents would divorce when we were little. I realize I have no idea how it might have really been if they had, or how I really would have felt if it happened. Sometimes I wonder if the parents were good at not fighting around the children, or good at protecing their children from the chaos in the marriage, that those children are more affected by divorce? More upset about it? One thing that I see consistantly isif the divorce happens after the age of 6 for the child, it seems to be much harder for them. This is just my observation, no statisics or data to back it up. I assume part of the reason has to do with the formation of memory.

I’m not sure if children really understand that they want their parents together? Do they? But, rather that they want their parents in their home. I guess maybe it can represent that love can end. And, children feel it might be their fault? That is probably the biggest problem, children feeling responsible for the unhappiness in the home, responsible for their parents happiness. A horrible burden. And, I guess it might affect a child’s feelings about security and stability, which can stick with a person.

Maybe it depends on the divorce. If one of the parties really sucked, then I don’t think it was the divorce that affected the child the most. I think having a crappy parent is what mattered most.

Also, I have no stigma in my mind attached to divorce. I do not judge divorced people or children of divorce in any negative way. But, I have heard many many of my friends use words like failure, and afraid to tell their parents and friends when they wanted to or became divorced. They felt shame I think. Maybe the children feel it also? I always say shame will rot the soul. If that is part of it, that is too bad. Because, I think it is so common at this point, people should not feel those horrible feelings.

Here’s the thing, it is not the child’s fault of course, but I know a bunch of people who finally decided they could not stand their spouse anymore once they had children. So, I can see why children might feel this way, and interpret that as their fault. I know it is taboo to say such a thing, but I know a few women personally who basically could not stand to be around their husbands who were not helping them with the children. But, that of course is really about the adults, not the children.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I approach this question with trepidation. I’m divorced, and I know that it was a difficult thing for my children. But seriously, I was a gay man in a heterosexual marriage. I was also bipolar self-medicating with ungodly amounts of alcohol. Things were not going to work out.

Ten years later, my ex-wife and I get along better than ever, and her female partner is just as much a part of the family as anybody. I no longer drink and am stable on proper medication.

The kids are all doing well. They love their gay parents and show it readily. They get along with each other. One is out of school and finding his feet in his own way. One is thriving in high school, involved in three clubs that she loves. The youngest writes stories for her own amusement and is headed for the gifted class in English next year.

In my case, divorce was the best possibility. It has brought honesty into lives that used to be ruled by fear and lies. Perhaps my case is atypical. I don’t know. I can only speak from my own experience.

Nullo's avatar

Solid families are important for kids.

I find it distressing just how commonplace divorce has become. It doesn’t help that many of those divorces are a result of something petty.
In my book, divorce is acceptable in cases of abuse and infidelity; otherwise they ought to stick it out.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo Many divorces are over something petty? I find that statement surprising.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie I will not say “most,” I have no figures. I have heard, though, of divorces resulting from a buildup of resentment at things as simple as a personal habit. Or from disagreements. If there’s one, there are others.
Certainly many more than there should be.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I definitely would not prefer the crack addicted jailbird parents that are together over the lovely seperated parents. Maybe some people would, though.

skfinkel's avatar

Divorce when children are involved is very sad for the children, and I think many couples (or worse, one member of the couple) makes the choice of divorce thinking of themselves only and not their children. They are tired of their mate, he or she did something they cannot forgive, they want more excitement in their lives. These people do not grasp the true responsibility of marriage, that it is a challenge, not always fun, difficult at times, and bends the very notions of what you thought it might be. Marriage requires the mature acceptance of the failings of yourself and your spouse. And all these children growing up in split households, being shuttled back and forth, usually do not get to see mature adults working out relationships nor have the opportunity to learn about that. And then they grow up, and what do they know about working out a marriage relationship?

However, there are times divorce is appropriate, and that is in cases of abuse.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

I’m very newly divorced. Our children are young, the oldest 12. I think awareness of our kids is key; counseling for all involved is SO important, and lots and lots of communication with the kids~ telling them over and over :) this is about the adults and there was nothing you could have done different.
Just keeping a very careful eye on HOW they are doing.

JLeslie's avatar

@skfinkel My comment to your comment is if one of the parents is very immature, or just basically a total loser, or macho lying cheating idiot, there is no way to work at it. In cases like this, if the bad situation is evident to the child, in my experience the children are happy to see the screwed up parent out of the house if the house is full of anger, screaming, and dissappointment. Especially if the child perceives one of the parents as being abused, and feels protective of that parent. When children take on that roll of strongly identifying with the abused parent, I think it many times really screws them up for a long time. The abuse does not have to be physical harm, it can be as simple as a child perceiving their parent as extremely unhappy seemingly caused by the other parent.

I disagree with you and @Nullo I think most people stress out for years thinking about divorce, don’t do it hastily, especially when children are involved, and feel tremendous guilt, sadness, and shame around the matter. I think there are very few people who are cavalier about the whole thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@skfinkel I forgot to add that I agree children benefit from being able to witness adults communicating well, and working on relationships. However, a bad example of relationships might be worse? I don’t know. Parent/child relationships, friendships, and other couples the children witness all also count for modeling communication and understanding. This is why I think relationships should be taught in high school.

seazen's avatar

—I do make a huge effort to communicate with my – -!@#$%—- ex, for the kids’ sakes mostly. They see us talking, I even invite her (with them) for dinner and such on the odd occasion.I see how well it affects my youngest – even though we’ve never discussed it. Essentially, he’s always had divorced parents and knows nothing else.

JLeslie's avatar

@seazen When you say you see how well it affects your youngest, what exactly were you referring to? That being civil to your – @!#% – ex does seem to have a positive affect on your children?

JLeslie's avatar

Edit by me

skfinkel's avatar

@JLeslie You are talking about abuse. When I say that in my view divorce is acceptable in certain situations, I don’t mean just physical abuse; emotional abuse, neglect, serious abnormal behavior problems and serious psychological issues on the part of one spouse are in the category of what I include as a fair reason to consider divorce. Most marriages don’t involve this level of badness, though, certainly not the huge percentages that we are seeing—I think most divorces are from people (or one person in the marriage) who don’t have the moxie to accept that life is not always a bowl of cherries, and really take on the adult responsibility that marriage with children require. If a marriage dissolves where no children are involved, or when the children are grown and out of the house, I think that is quite a different thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@skfinkel There are those who don’t have the moxie, I agree. Too idealistic about life, maybe unrealistic is a better word. There are also those who are not abusive, but still suck in relationships. And, abuse is different for everyone. I grew up in a house with yelling and screaming. I hated it, but I don’t feel I was abused. My sister does. My father thought it was totally normal behavior back then. He wasn’t hurting anyone in his mind. Also, there is a difference between going through a tough time in your marriage, and really not wanting to be anywhere near your spouse. That is how my girlfriends who are divorced were by the time they got divorced, well most of them. Divorce was freedom, and reduced stress. Marriage should make life easier and more enjoyable, not harder and more stressful. IMO.

skfinkel's avatar

@JLeslie I am sure those who are in awful, screaming, unpleasant marriages are very happy to be out of them. I just think that no one should kid themselves about how bad it is for children whose lives are really affected by those divorces. I can’t say I don’t agree with you that marriage should make life easier and more enjoyable. That is probably how everyone begins. The question is, why is it that some can make them work and others can’t, or don’t. And if they don’t, is their thinking about their children just kidding themselves while they get out of their crappy relationship.

JLeslie's avatar

@skfinkel I think there are many reasons why some mariage work and some don’t. Many marriages are bad matches from the start, and those are harder to work out I think. I know people who got married when they had a nagging voice in their head already unsure about the person. Some people have this idea about how a wife or husband should act, or be, and when their spouse does not live up to it there is intense conflict or dissapointment. They say money is a big factor leading to divorce. Well, here in America soooo many people suck at handeling money, whether single or married, that until Americans get their act together even on that one thing we will continue to see divorce because of financial stress and/or irresponsibility.

I don’t know one divorced parent who does not worry about how it has affected their children. I do know single parents, who have never been married, who seem to accept the situation as normal and just how it is, but not divorced parents. And, there have been some stats out there, I would have to dig them up, that when you take single parents (never been wed) out of the stats for evaluating how children do over time; children of divorced parents do close to the same as married parents. It is when they group all children of all categories of “single” parents together that the stats show children of married parents do better.

If couples stay together, but never really work out their differences, the modeling for the child is still not being able to work out difficulties in a relationship. So maybe they don’t have the trauma of divorce in their childhood, but they still could easily wind up being shitty spouses themselves, unless they have done some self analysis, and had some other examples in their life of strong couples.

I had no idea couples over the age of 40 could still like each other when I was young. I thought all couples wound up hating each other. Somehow I got really lucky. My first serious boyfriend taught me to not hold grudges, and to not be judgemental. I also have a close friend who one day when we were in college said to me, “I don’t understand why family would criticize each other, why they don’t do everything they can to encourage each other and support them.” That sentence was like an epiphany for me.

seazen's avatar

@JLeslie I meant that my son, who basically grew up with two separate parents, responds well to our being in touch and communicating. He is always “fine” – but he likes when we talk and he is nearby to listen in – whatever the topic (usually the kids). It’s instinctive, I think.

JLeslie's avatar

@seazen Makes sense.

seazen's avatar

But then every person is unique; every case individual.

CaptainHarley's avatar

No, after awhile you begin to see patterns.

JLeslie's avatar

@seazen Kids feel like that with married parents also. A girlfriend of mine was telling me that her daughter asked the other day why she and daddy never kiss and why they don’t say nice things to each other. Not that they fight a lot or say mean things to each other, I just think at this point in their marriage there is kind of a lack of communication, and dealing with each of theirs responsibilities in the marriage, and not enough together time.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Kinds ( and animals, for that matter ) know more and see more and think more than we give them credit for.

seazen's avatar

@JLeslie It’s different. Parents are more, less affectionate regardless of the situation they’re in. They could be a loving, uptight anal couple who rarely show affection – but have zero plans for divorece and would balk at the concept.

There are couples, divorced, who behave like lovers and friends. Takes all kinds.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Wow @seazen , so true, so true.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

My ego wanted to be offended by some of the points made by JLeslie…I wanted to defend myself
But after thinking about it, the actual information is so relevant on both sides and should be highly considered when even THINKING about divorce.
I don’t need to explain mine…but boy you better have gone through all the counseling and prayer and discussions etc we did before deciding to put your children in this position. Yes, absolutely.
Great discussion here…I appreciate the insight

JLeslie's avatar

@Crossroadsgrl Sorry if I came across offensive. Tough subject to talk about with feelings not being hurt. I tried to actually defend divorce in my answers, I am not sure if that came through.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

Okay either way it’s important information here

I can’t believe my life has taken this path.

But I remain incredibly optimistic

No worries at all

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