Divorce in 2013. Does an intact family help the children?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This hopefully lighthearted and non-judgmental thread will just toss around ideas. I think about this a lot now because my grandson is spending half the time with my son and half the time with his mother and her new boyfriend. I wonder if there is really stability when you are thrown back and forth from dad to mom, especially when they don't really like one another. Which makes me think of divorce (aha! More Retro) when I was growing up. Heck, if kids had divorced parents they were embarassed and tried to hide it and my mother always told me never to bring it up in front of the child.

    Now jump to 2013, no fault divorce, and some 20's kids saying, "Well, if I don't end up liking him, I'll just get divorced" about their intended. Or those, like Julie, who isn't sure she doesn't want to marry her SO, but has been with him for ten years and wants to have children with him. I worry if all this is makiing even more difficult children than before. And if this is one reason why. I know my first three kids, who saw divorce, also saw tons more problems in their young lives. I do think the divorce between me and ex contributed to it. And I see Sonic and Jumper, who never saw a divorce, much better adjusted, more stable, and really nice people. Jumper only has one friend whose parents have stayed intact 100% through the child's young lifetime. That child is also very well adjusted.

    I personally feel the divorce laws are too lax (I'm old fashion this way). No-fault divorce means anyone can just get up and leave, like 35's ex did, and almost be rewarded for it, but the child suffers. You don't have to try and there are no consequences for breaking up the family. In the case of physical abuse and even mental abuse, I get it, but often it's just that somebody found somebody else. I would like to see a little accountability on the part of the person who was responsible for a marital breakup. Now it seems like nobody really stays married anymore. And I do feel it impacts the children a lot. I'm not sure Julie would have gotten into drugs if there had been no divorce. She wasn't a rebellious kid...she just felt lonely and lost after the divorce, didn't like being moved around, and had no friends in her knew neighborhood and the rest is history.

    What is your opinion? Please...let us not bash people who have been divorced or who have stayed together. Heck, let's not bash at all, we're all friends here :) My opinion is just my opinion and not right or wrong and yours is also yours. I'm just curious about this issue because I don't remember as many wild children when I went to school. Certainly nobody would back talk a teacher and most kids did want to please their parents (there were usually two of them). When I saw it change was when the old rules fell apart in the late 60's and the parents became as wild as the kids!!!! :)

  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    I think it really depends on the parents' relationship. With my parents, they got divorced after 27 years, which was at least 15 years too late. They really intensely disliked each other for a very long time. Name calling - not even bad names, but things like "fat woman" or "dumb man," or the screaming matches that were almost daily, or the rare (but still too often) violence in terms of throwing stuff at each other ... I'm not sure that living in an "intact family" with 2 utterly miserable people whose sole intent is to make their partner more miserable than they personally are is better than divorced parents. In fact, I wouldn't call my family intact, even though the divorce didn't happen until I had been out of the house for several years.

    The one thing I did learn from my parents is how *not* to fight. Cheap shots and intentionally hurting my husband are completely off bounds.

    husband and I have divorced friends who do some of the crummiest stuff to each other in front of their kids or worse yet, use their kids as weapons against the ex.

    I think it's always going to be a no-win situation when the adults involved ignore the effects of their own bad behavior on their kids, regardless of whether they stay together or split up.

    And I'm not sure incidence of gfgness is really going to be more or less one way or the other, especially when the parents are behaving like difficult children.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    To me, there is absolutely no question that the best situation for any child - neurotypical or difficult child - is an intact, original, healthy family. It is the way we were created (take your pick... either "creation" or evolution come to the same conclusion on this one!). Kids always do better with long-term stability and a healthy environment. And even "relatively" healthy and "relatively" stable... are better than not having both.

    Is stability worth more than a healthy environment? Not going to discuss, because I have no experience in that area.

    But we've often commented that the breakdown of the nuclear family - and the extended family - definitely contributes to the production of difficult children.
  4. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    difficult child 1 has been through 4 divorces. My other kids none. I often wonder what difficult child 1 would be like same genes but no divorces. I think it has really hurt him to lose so many people.
  5. nerfherder

    nerfherder Active Member

    My aunt and uncle stayed married, but my cousin once said "I wish they'd gotten divorced, 'staying together for the children' makes no sense to me.'" He was an only child, for what it's worth.

    On the whole I agree with you, but I agree with my cuz - "staying together for the children" isn't fooling anyone, least of all the children. Mom taught me an oooold Jewish saying, "Better apart with peace than together in war."

    DEX and I honestly communicate better now than we did the last three years of our marriage. No insult to him intended, but one autistic child was enough for my stress level.
  6. Dixies_fire

    Dixies_fire Member

    I should have an opinion but I don't it took me two years to get over my divorce if I think about it too much I still think I failed.

    I went about choosing second partner in the most meticulous fashion I could and he had mental break down.

    I worry about my children daily and I worry about not really believing in love.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I wish I could say. I know kids from divorced homes who grew up to be happy, healthy, successful people. I know kids from married parents who did not, and I know of the opposite happening for both scenarios.

    Mostly, I think the parents have to face that they are going to be in each other's lives for life if they have a child. they have to learn to fight fair and work together or the kids pay the price, regardless of their marital relationship. I think if the parents fight a lot, the kids pay. Period.

    More stability is best, but having your parents stay married and hate each other isn't stability. At least not the kind that is healthy.

    My mom totally nailed one thing: You NEVER let your kid hear you badmouth the other parent. NEVER. The child is half you, half the other parent. when you badmouth the other parent, the ONLY thing a child CAN understand is that they are half the bad, horrible, whatever vile thing you say the other parent is. And none of us want our kids to think that abut themselves. But that IS the message they get from what we say.

    I was a teen when she told me not to ever sleep with someone I didn't think I could work with for twenty years, because that is the MINIMUM amount of time you have to work with the other parent of your child. I had more than a few guys stop dating me because I wouldnt sleep with them because I didn't think I could get along with them for that long with-o commiting violence on them. It sure made a few of them stop and think though. I knew VERY shortly after meeting husband that we could make it work if we decided to put the effort into it. So did he. My mom saw it the night he met him, maybe a week after I did. We are coming up to 22 yrs soon, so far so good. Of course ten days after we met, husband TOLD me we were going to get married. He knew before then that I don't believe in divorce. If you do one of the things on my short list, you deserve to die and i won't have a problem killing you. the rest? Can be worked through. Oddly, I think he was LOOKING for someone iwth that attitude. Who would have thought?
  8. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Well-Known Member

    I was a difficult child before my parents divorced and husband and I are still very happily married and difficult child is well, a difficult child....
  9. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    My parents have been married for almost 45 years. I like to think I turned out pretty good! I do have some abandonment issues - my Dad was on the road a lot when I was a kid. And... When I was 3, my parents split for 6 months. Their cardinal rule was whatever they did, it was for their daughter - which meant no badmouthing or fighting in front of me. Even so, I went from completely potty trained to wetting the bed again, and it took me 3 more years to get over that.

    husband's parents split 29 years ago, when he was 14. He and his sister are difficult children... But then, so are mother in law and father in law. I'm honestly shocked husband and sister in law are as easy child as they are. sister in law divorced brother in law, then remarried him... And is in process of divorcing him again and has been for about 6 years. Niece is 25 and nephew is 23. She was a major difficult child and now is mostly easy child... He is unmotivated but a good kid.

    husband has been married 3 times - Raven's mom, Onyxx & Jett's bio, and me. Raven's mom is a super needy woman who ended up having 4 boys by 4 different men and was only married to one - husband. When bio threatened to take Raven away from his mom, she took him into hiding and husband did not see him again for 16 years. You all know the story of Onyxx & Jett's mother, and then I came on the scene when Onyxx was 8 and Jett 5. We took over full custody when she was 12 and he almost 9... Onyxx is a full-blown difficult child, Jett has his moments but is much more easy child. And of course there is Meggie, who God willing will have an intact family. So far, though, it's clear she feels loved.

    I was married before husband. XH was into online porn and NASCAR, to the exclusion of his wife. I left due to neglect... No kids. Thank heavens. But... He was a difficult child from an intact, but very unhealthy, family...
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is an interesting and thankfully friendly discussion.

    I just read an article that said that if you do get divorced kids do MUCH BETTER if you get along with your ex. Sadly, this often doesn't happen. Those are the kids who, apparently, do the worse. But, let's face it, it is unusual to divorce because you LIKE each other!!!

    I think some of the laws hurt the kids, like forcing them to see parents who they feel are abusive (the kids). "The best interests of the child" is often a big joke.

    A loooooooooooong time ago I read another article (when I was contemplating my divorce, which I did get). That article said that kids do better if you stay together, even if you fight, as long as there isn't violence involved. I took that seriously and waited a long time to get divorced, but I did anyway. My friend was in the same situation and she stayed with her husband, although she was having an emotional affair for ten years with a psychologist her son used to see (very ethical man...ahem). Her husband knew nothing about it. He never has. They stayed together and things got much better and they have three PCs who adore them both and now they have two grands as well. I think about her at times. Things can actually be very bad then change to good again.

    She is happy she stuck it out and he never knew she had almost left him. So apparently their fights did not affect their three awesome kids. But my divorce from ex, even being friendly, did hurt my kids, especially Julie, poor thing.

    I'm not sorry I divorced ex now that the dust has settled. But I used to feel guilty. Now I'm just glad I was able to experience real love and two kids who benefited from that. But it's always "iffy."
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    My biodad stunk at being a husband........wasn't a class A dad either, for that matter. My mom having the major onset of mental illness shortly after they married (the schizo went full tilt at around 21/22) most certainly did NOT help the relationship. Mom is also a control freak due to her own childhood. I can't say them having been divorced before I was born (I'm the youngest of 5 if you don't count half sibs) bothered me. And this was before divorce became fairly popular. Thanks to husband 2 that took on the role of Daddy completely, I never really "missed" biodad. (and this is the man I refer to when I talk about my "dad")

    Mom had 3/4 divorces by the time I hit high school. She had so many "boyfriends" and guys she dated there was no way to keep track......I didn't even learn most of their names. Didn't bother me. Except that I knew when I was grown that the man I chose would be until Death do us part. She taught me how NOT to fight, nag, manipulate, sneak.........in a relationship. It was easy, I just did the opposite of whatever she would've done. (and it worked lol ) I knew that marriage wasn't Happily Ever After from the get go.........but I also knew it was a lot of work, and you had to be willing to work at it if you wanted it to last.

    I have to admit I do not "get" the whole kid being traumatized by divorce thing. (and trust me my mom could be vicious and vindictive as all hades, she even stalked some of them) From my own sibs and from my friends...........I DO think it's often used as a manipulation tool by kids to their advantage more than it is real trauma. Parents fear it will be traumatizing gives them the idea and they run with it. Kids, even young ones, are NOT stupid. Kids are far more adaptable than people give them credit for.

    My attitude was "mom could you please make up your mind or at least pick someone for the RIGHT reasons??" omg *sigh* I hated all the moving around and such.

    Mom's divorce with 2nd husband, the man I think of as Dad, was not pretty. That one I remember well and I was like 6/7 at the time. It was over money. The man worked 3 jobs and sold produce from the garden on the side. Mom worked too. (because it gave her security) And mom had a cow because he loaned his grown kids 20 bucks here and there. ugh But Dad, being the man he was, ignored her when she didn't want him around and still saw us every day. Still came and did all the things he did when he was married to her........except their relationship part. They wound up best friends and he was my Dad until the day he died when I was 22.

    With mom, after the first divorce, it was easier to throw up her hands and walk away instead of trying (really trying) to make a relationship work. It was her way or the highway, never a compromise.

    I swore my kids would not live through that. They didn't. They had a nice stable drama free childhood with two parents who loved and respected each other. Do I think it made a difference? Yes, actually I do. I see my kids working hard to make their relationships work. They don't take marriage lightly. It's a commitment, a lifelong commitment.

    I will say though, I also don't think if a relationship is abusive, and I don't just mean physically abusive, it needs to end. Therapy rarely works. And it is a miserable environment for a child to grow up in, regardless if the parents love each other or not.
  12. Dixies_fire

    Dixies_fire Member

    Have stuff to add. My ex husbands parents where married for 22 years until he
    was a senior in high school and he was a difficult child. His brother and sister much less so, but still. I don't even think he's a bad difficult child compared to other difficult child people I have known but his mom makes it clear to him how much she thinks he's a screw up.

    My current husband's dad died when he was 7. He has PTSD from that. His parents were married. His mom dated one person growing up who was not a nice man and she eventually chucked him to the curb.

    My parents married twice but were not really together through out my life. I have a brother 14 yrs my senior who is my full brother. I have a sister from my mothers second marriage who is difficult child to the max. She was "Learning Disability (LD)" in school 20 years ago. Which you know means nothing. She probably was an alphabet kid but they just didn't diagnose many girls back in the day for anything and if you could speak and maintain friends you must just be a difficult child

    I am 8 years younger than her and the only planned kid that my parents ever had and they still only made it 3 years. For a long time my first memory of my dad was my parents getting into it physically.

    I have many resentments about my life. I was an a student most of my life and ignored in favor of difficult child sister. My accomplishments were not a big deal when paired with her failures. I resented being raised by my aunt even though I think many of my good parenting qualities come from her. I moved out at 16, got my GED and worked all of my life this is my longest time unemployed as a house wife and I am not a fan. I moved out because my mom got back together with my dad and I couldn't really deal with someone trying to parent me after years of my mom and I being room mates. My dad bought me a 800.00 car and paid my 50.00 insurance and that was it. I dealt with it, enjoyed it. For the most part. I was resentful that they would not help me through college which I was accepted to at 16 but it is what it is and I will get to go one day.

    My ex and I were married for 7 years. There were many ups and downs. Our relationship had settled into boring middle age which I was fine with. He wasn't. He cheated while I was deployed. I probably would have forgiven him if he had been the slightest bit repentant but he wasn't so we divorced.

    I had no intention on getting divorced but unfortunately I don't have the kind of ego that can philosophically accept being the less preferred woman. The whole thing kind of ruined my self worth. Tk's issues were definitely less pronounced prior to our divorce but some of the signs were there. And she would probably be a bit more manageable if we were still married as we co parented well with her. Boyo was very young and doesn't seem effected at all.

    My best friend was in a two parent home, she is much less successful in life then myself has very little ambition but has managed to hold on to her marriage. Her husband is a difficult child and her step son from her husband's first marriage is a serious dangerous difficult child. All things considered she would probably be more successful if she dropped the husband that doesn't work contribute parent or help. But hey she's happy and divorce is worse than death right?

    Who knows.
  13. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I do believe that divorce hurts kids always. Thing is that at times not divorcing hurts them more.

    My mom and dad have 9 marriages and divorces (and countless live-in boy/girlfriends/common law spouses) between them. I kind of decided early I wouldn't add on divorce pile if anyway possible. And would never divorce for a better man while my kids were still home. Only if living with husband would be unbearable I would divorce and then stay single till kids were adults. I was also very careful to choose a husband and used my brains at least as much as my heart or other nether regions. (Found a nice compromise though.) However all my life decisions have been made keeping firmly in mind how it would affect me being able to survive on my own and taking care of my kids on my own. I almost feel guilty at times when I always make decisions taking that into an account even though we have been more or less, and mostly more, happily married over twenty years and plan to be at least next twenty.
  14. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    Interesting discussion. I have no experience with divorce personally, but 2 things in my life definitely do come to mind when reading this and thinking about it. One is, when we were young, my sister and I would practically beg our dad to divorce our (full-blown difficult child) mom. I truly think that I would have been better off without her in my life. The other is, my sister is going through a situation right now where divorce is definitely on the table, but nothing has been decided yet - it's a loooooong story, but suffice it to say that her husband has had some sort of breakdown/mid-life crisis/culture shock and has been cheating on her for several months. They have 2 beautiful young girls, and my heart breaks for all of them (well, not my POS brother in law) knowing that the dream of a happy, intact family is all but dead.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If marriage doesn't work, or it doesn't matter if kids come from intact families, is my daughter Julie right then? She doesn't ever want to marry her SO, but she does want kids. When I asked G., her SO, why he said, "If we had been married, we would have been divorced fourteen times already, but we're still together." I thought this was interesting. The two of them do fight and make up and love each other and have never loved anyone else. But divorce is "hot button." Somebody does something wrong and if you are married there is the sometimes sensible solution and sometimes revenge of divorce.I read that marriage is at an all time low.

    I never encourage Julie to marry G. I think things are fine with them the way they are, minus the fact that they don't share a few marriage bennies. I am an avid NPR listener and a few guests have come on talking about how marriage is so much less important now to young people who live in seas of divorces. I hope I don't sound radical here, but I think this makes sense. I really didn't want to marry the second time that I did. I married legally only because we wanted to adopt children and, at the time, that required marriage. I don't think it does anymore. I mean, this second marriage is very happy, but I consider THAT partly luck.

    Jumper likes to watch the show about girls buying bridal gowns for $10,000. I am so cynical that I chuckle to myself while watching and think, "And you'll be divorced in ten years and that dress will have been a big waste of money."
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Those $10,000 wedding gowns?
    JMO, but... a wedding is NOT some princess party.
    It is a very serious life committment, and THAT is not captured in a "major show" of fantasy and money.
    Too many who marry want that fantasy and show of a "wedding", but really are not committed to "marriage".

    In the old days, you were doing very well to even afford a nice dress to get married in... and it sure wasn't a "gown".
  17. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Marriage has never been quite as biggy here than in most western world for several cultural and geographical reasons. However it has been last 30 years when not getting married has become really common. Also getting married later is very common. I think half of first-borns are born outside of marriage nowadays. Most have parents who live together in committed relationship but have not yet married for reason or another. It is also very common to get married as a surprise in your first-born's Christening ceremony.

    I simply can't see marriage as ultimate commitment. A mortgage is bigger. (Of course we don't have alimony...) And have a kid with someone and you are tied to that person for rest of your life. Definitely much bigger.

    However I did want to marry. It is legal contract and it has lots of meaning that way. And if not married (and only with prenup that only covers assets we had before marriage and inheritance), I would never had become a stay-at-home mom for several years. That would had been too risky without marriage and husband paying towards my retirement insurance. And difficult child really needed those years and I enjoyed them. They also helped husband's career. But without marriage covering my rear end? No way.
  18. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I'm with IC.

    I wore the gown that my great-grandmother hand-made for my mom, for my wedding to XH. And then a summer garden-party dress when I married husband - cost all of $40.

    Too much is made out of the wedding and not enough of the marriage anymore.
  19. Dixies_fire

    Dixies_fire Member

    I told hubs I didn't really feel like it was necessary to get married. It didn't change anything for us for a while when we were both in the army and we knew we were going to have to endure a six month long army imposed separation because of his orders.

    In my opinion men still have too many entitlement issues.
    If we weren't married I'd be eligible for half a dozen benefits that while they wouldn't be comfortable would enable me to leave this house, go back to work, take my possessions that I acquired before our relationship with minimal legal fuss, maybe a police officer visit. Food stamps, section 8, free day care. You name it.

    If I left today with all of my children. I'd have a car that I'd have to drive cross country to get to anyone I know. Live in a shelter, be homeless probably to convince someone I needed help and wasn't trying to run a scam. Run the risk of them denying me benefits because I was still married. Move into a apartment without any furniture because it would still be here in this house.

    This wasn't really the case with my first marriage as I was the bread winner, we both had family locally. And my ex did lose some of the things he felt he was "entitled" to because of our divorce. But he left with what he came with and a few other things besides. So too bad so sad.

    If we weren't married he probably wouldn't be such a butt hole cause he thinks I would leave.
    I get Julie's view point.

    It's an ugly
    Unnecessary business that allows people treat you poorly.
    But I'm totally biased at this time.
    But I mean that's what divorce is about.
    My marriage might fall apart because of hubs mental illness and he isn't going to be fair if I leave. He would not assist me in removing myself from his presence, he would not be civil about it at all.
  20. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I think that a happy family helps children, and it's irrelevant whether they are intact or not. Going back an forth is difficult for anyone, and I think that as children age they should have more input than when they are younger. To me the most important thing is for them to know that they are loved, and that they are never a part of the separation between the adults. They should never hear anything negative from one parent or another. You can't stop those things, and with some parents it is inevitable. For me with L, it was brutal and there is no way that she will ever have a clear head about me or most anything else in life. I believe she is a true sociopath, and the reason she is one is that the only way she got positive attention from her dad and step mom was by being hateful and abusive to the people they were hateful and abusive to. I might be wrong, and time will tell.

    In this day and age, I don't know why anyone bothers to get married. I just don't see people like me who are in long-term happy marriages. Someone's always cheating or sacrificing or leaving. Anyone I know who is married for any length of time is much older than me, and I'm no spring chick.