Are all of us divorced or single moms? Is this a factor?


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Of course, I mean do you THINK it's a factor and is that why it's hard not to feel guilty?

In my case, yes, I was divorced. I think it REALLY affected Julie's behavior. When I remarried and moved out of state, she had no friends, was shy, and the drugs started. So I still feel badly about that. I feel I was insensitive to her and we have talked about it.

I don't think it made 36 better or worse. He didn't like the divorce, but he was doing horribly before it too.

How do you feel about this issue? Today, while reading, it occurred to me that we have very few intact families and, as far as I know, NO intact families where the adult children ended up with criminal leanings. Unless I'm missing somebody (sorry if I am!!!).

How many of our own parents divorced? Mine did, but not until I was in my 20s.


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I am divorced, but we didn't get separated until difficult child was 16. By then he had already been to multiple therapists, military school, a wilderness treatment center, and a therapeutic boarding school for a year. I do NOT think our divorce had anything to do with his GFGness. I think he was born with issues, and his life circumstance (being born into a family of high achievers, mainly) helped him become incredibly high achieving at the goal of making bad decisions (lol I'm funny today). Also I have three PCs (although difficult child twin looked pretty GFGish for a 5 years...but that was age 13-18, and those years are behind us now.).

So no, I don't think it is causative. I do think difficult child's are tough on marriages and that THEY should feel guilty about causing OUR divorces (hahaha now I"m REALLY funny).

In all seriousness, it is a question worth considering but I think there are a lot of causes, most of them not in our sphere of influence.



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I divorced my son's father when he was under 2. He saw him sporadically until he was 5 and I remarried. He never saw him again until his funeral 2 years later. He was in trouble with the law and took off cross-country, eventually landed in jail and killed himself. My son didn't know exactly what happened, except that he died, until he was 17 or so.

My husband had adopted him shortly before the ex died. He's realistically been the only father he's known. It took a really long time to call him "dad". In fact, my husband finally put his foot down and told him he had to when he was maybe 12. Part of that may have been me using his first name to my son all the time. When you have a baby you just kind of start referring to each other as mom and dad. "Where's your dad?" "Mom wants you." But for some reason, I'd use his given name a lot.

Anyway, my parents were married 40 years and died before my son was born. My husbands parents are still together and accepted my son as their grandson as soon as he was introduced. They've never treated him as anything else and he's always called them "grandma and grandpa". The ex's parents never even visited before he died.

So I guess it's accurate to say I was divorced and a single mom...for a few years. But my son has always had a intact family since age 5. My husband and I don't even fight. My signature says "soul mate" and I feel that's true. I can't image anyone has a better, stronger, marriage than we have. I have to admit, there are times I wonder if that might have contributed to my son's problems. My husband and I were so much in love and kind of "into" each other that I wonder if my son felt like the 3rd wheel? It's one of the many things I guilt myself over at times.

I work in Social Services, in child support and we've discussed this topic a bit here. We see so many kids with problems, ADHD being the most common. We've kicked around the question of whether these folks bad relationship caused the kid's problems? Or whether the kid's problems caused the parents relationship to fail?


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Hah, I'm one of those with intact family, but I have to agree with Echolette: It is the difficult children that cause divorces.

And I'm (more than half) serious; having a special needs child(ren) is incredibly hard for marriage. Doesn't make much difference if they are difficult children or high special needs other wise. It simply is hard. Though we have joked with husband that difficult child is a reason we haven't divorced; neither of us wanted to deal with him alone.

I'm not saying that my difficult child wouldn't have benefited from having intact family and strong extended family support network around him; it certainly has helped and if that would had been different I do believe we would had even more problems with him.

With some kids a ill timed divorce may cause an onset of dabbling with drugs or something like that, but then again, so can best friend moving to other city. So absolutely no point blaming oneself about it. Of course everyone who has kids should make every effort to make a best possible divorce and shared parenting experience for the kids, but anyway in life things happen and we can not protect our kids from that all and every time.
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Though we have joked with husband that difficult child is a reason we haven't divorced; neither of us wanted to deal with him alone.

LOL, that is what my ex is thinking right now! Sometimes the difficult child #$%^ hits his fan now...I was always the buffer when we were married.



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Though we have joked with husband that difficult child is a reason we haven't divorced; neither of us wanted to deal with him alone.

LOL My husband and I have done that too. "I'll take the bills and you take the kid."

Scent of Cedar *

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husband and I have been married 41 years.

husband had been married and divorced before I met him.

This is my first, and only, marriage.

So my question is whether the kids would have done better if we HAD been divorced.

There was a time when homosexuality, autism, and schizophrenia (and anxiety disorders) were attributed to defective mothering.

Not defective parenting, but defective mothering.

Those diagnoses reflected the prejudices of those times.

And though people believed the professionals who made these diagnoses, the diagnoses were wrong as could be.

So, though we try so hard to make amends for wherever it looks like we might have opened the door for the bad
things that came next, I don't think we can say for sure why these things happen to us, or to our kids.

I do know none of us would find strength and support from one another the way we do if we were not truly horrified at what has happened to the children we loved and the families we created, whether we were able to hold our marriages together, or not.


Echo, you sound great.


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I divorced when my son was 15. I don't think it was the divorce that caused the problem, it was staying with his father for way too many years and the misery that caused and the effect that had on us all. I should have divorced when the kids were young. Growing up with a dysfunctional father has definitely had a lasting impact on my son. So I do feel guilty that I didn't escape with the children when they were young.

My parents were very unhappy and I remember rows and upset and my mother going to bed for days on end and not speaking to any of us. It would have been better if they had divorced, but it wasn't so easy then. They were stuck together until my father died. In their case I can see now that it was my mother's behaviour that caused my father misery. It's better to get out of an unhappy marriage and we are lucky that we're not as trapped as generations past.

The divorce rate is nearing 50% isn't it? and it's not 50% of children that become difficult children, so I can't see that there is a correlation. It's easy to blame ourselves for our kids' problems and I don't think it's fair to lump yet another cause of guilt, such as divorce, on ourselves.

My second husband is also divorced and none of his children are difficult children. I'm his third wife. Most, if not all, of my friends are also divorced, but none of them have experienced the worry and stress that my son has caused me.

Divorce and step-families are becoming the norm in our society. It's no excuse for the behaviour of some of our children.
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Active Member
I've been married to the same man for 34 years, with no divorces in either of our families, and I have two sons with criminal leanings. However, my husband had some major issues (untreated mental illness, alcoholism) until about 8 years ago, so for many of my kids' formative years we lived in various degrees of chaos. So I'm not sure if divorce per-se is a contributing factor, or maybe a chaotic family atmosphere. Then I think some kids are going to be difficult children regardless of their upbringing.

I feel like my older difficult child's problems started when we moved from a small town to a large city in his freshman year of high school. I think he was overwhelmed by culture shock and latched onto the first kids who spoke to him, which happened to be the ones cutting class out in the park. I also think he internalized my husband's verbal abuse more than the other kids, and acted out accordingly in a self-destructive way. The husband is great now, a totally different person, thank goodness, but difficult child's problems continue.


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Ummmm Pam...I think you missed or forgot me. While Tony and I are not married we have lived together for the past 31 years and we have been an intact family unit that entire time. Jamie and Cory were raised in a two parent household where I stayed at home until Cory was 8 years old.

I am a difficult child and my parents didnt divorce until I was over 18.

in a daze

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Happilly married for 30 years.

difficult child had every advantage. We still live in the same house we bought when he was six months old. We were loving and attentive parents. He had a large extended family of cousins his age and neighbourhood pals. When he started complaining of depression at age 16 we brought him to the pediatrician. Got him a therapist, a psychiatrist, neuropsychology exam, tutors, Neuro feedback treatments.

Depression is all over our family tree, on both sides. Some substance abuse...there were some uncles here and there who were functioning alcoholics. These conditions seem to run in Irish families. Genetics play a big part in how our kids turn out, I think.


Shooting from the Hip
My difficult children all had divorce as a factor... But then, if everything was rosy anyway, they wouldn't have, right?


Active Member
LOL about this question!

We are still married and pushing 35 years now. We jokingly have said some horrible things to each other:

1. When our son was arrested, he was literally tearing thru cornfields at 110 mph with police in hot pursuit. We have a very unusual last name and yes, his name and picture were plastered all over the TV and front page of the newspaper too. So, our conversation centered around changing our names.

2. We've always said that the one the leaves the marriage has to take full responsibility for difficult child - therefore no divorce.

3. We couldn't afford divorce with all the mental hospital stays, residential school, special schools that we've paid for. Recently we brought lawyers into our check register - to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. How could we split up the bills?

4. And finally we figure who would want either of us: we are both old, tired and very sad about the way our son's life has turned out.

Sarcasm and laughter get us thru this though.


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Staff member
Stop that! Is this a factor? I highly, big time, majorly doubt it. We are an intact (for lack of a better word) family and we have a difficult child. I agree, that difficult child's cause additional stress for a marriage. I seem to know several families with adopted difficult children in particular that ended in divorce. I suppose the hardships associated with divorce could exacerbate an already problematic situation, but I suspect many difficult children are born with some special something within and their special "talents" would appear regardless. husband and I would joke that if there was a divorce we would each try to act crazier than the other ....trying to get the other spouse to get custody. (Similar to what Judi said above)
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I don't have an opinion if it is or isn't part of the reason - however I wonder if it is constructive to even ask such a question. I, as a parent of a difficult child question did I cause it, is it my fault etc. Without adding to the guilt of if only II had stayed married. I have been married to my husband for 25+ years, however when I was a single mom, my daughter, age 15 got passing a not about wanting to poison me??? I beat myself over difficult child enough without the added reasonings????


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Judi....for years Tony and I used to say the same thing to each other about whoever left had to take the boys therefore no one I think it is gallows humor. Personally I dont think either of us could have completely done it on our own and I know without a doubt he couldnt have done all the mental health and school stuff I did. He wouldnt have had a clue and he hates talking on the phone.


Active Member
I've never been married and raised both of my kids on my own without help from their other parent. I've long said that my difficult child should have been a single FATHER'S child at the very least- as he is or always has been more in tune with a man around. I only had one 'real' relationship during their lives (that was not their father) and when he and I were together, difficult child was BETTER. Not great, but BETTER. That time period was when difficult child was 7-10 years old. He was always more apt to listen to my 'boyfriend' than to me, and didn't even argue back with him like he would with me. I've often wondered if the boyfriend and I had actually stayed together and maybe even married, if difficult child would have turned out better.

But you know, in all of that- I still did the best I could. I know that I did not raise a child to lie, steal, destruct property, fight, be disrespectful, or any of that. I gave them an example of a work ethic and "if you don't work for it, then you don't get it".

And yet, he chooses- even to this day (I've not laid my eyes on him in over a month) he'll text me and ask for money and LIE LIE LIE about his situation.

His sister was raised in the same environment and circumstance as he was and she's nothing like him at all. She's a wise one, that girl, and has told her brother MANY times that it is what it is- now it is what we make it. He listens to no one.


Active Member
My ex and I separated when difficult child was 15 and easy child was 13. Our divorce took FOUR (count them!) years to complete. We had a very amicable split and it's as good a divorce as any could be.

Both sons say that it didn't really have an impact on them because their father is a workaholic and he wasn't really there for them emotionally. Doesn't like confrontation. So they felt that his absence from the house was just business as usual.

I have massive resentments that my ex didn't teach them how to be men. I think boys who have positive role models win the jackpot. Even when my difficult child put me in the ICU for 5 days with a bleeding brain, NOTHING was said...

I am the ONLY person in my extended family who is divorced. And I agree wholeheartedly with the poster above who referenced the Irish genetic components of alcoholism and lunacy-it's my heritage and we have all of that in spades.