Divorce and the Kids
There's no question that your divorce is going to change your kids' lives. But it doesn't have to damage your kids. If you handle it well, if you put the children first and foremost, they will come out of it okay. It really is up to you and your partner whether your children, your sweet babies, come away from this break in their family union totally traumatized or not.
Divorce also isn't the worst thing you can do to children. If you let your spirit die your children will be hurt. If you allow yourself to drown in misery, your children will gasp for air. If you get drunk and stay drunk, hide in drugs - illicit or not - or consume your ex-husband's weight in pasta and potatoes, it will eat at your children's hearts. If you give in to the fear that you will have no money, that you cannot cope, that you are less without your partner, you will teach your children fear instead of hope. No, divorce isn't the only way to damage children. Sometimes it is the way to save them.
Studies have shown that up to eighty percent of women and fifty percent of men believe they were better off after divorce.1
However nothing in the research points to children experiencing that high a level of satisfaction after divorce. While children in homes where parents were desperately unhappy or in high conflict were relieved when parents parted, by no stretch of the imagination could researchers say that eighty percent of kids felt they were better off.
But the myth that divorce is a catastrophe that leaves a trail of broken children in its wake is also way off the mark. In fact, research shows that children adjust to divorce in short order, reporting feeling less bad, identifying many positive aspects, and demonstrating fewer psychological and physical symptoms of distress.2
In fact, according to Abigail Stewart and her comrades in research, "there is every evidence that parents' well-being was strongly linked with children's, and there is considerable evidence in our data … that the ending of an unhappy marriage initiates a period of personal growth and development that is good for [parents] and their children."3
1 Judith S. Walerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade after Divorce (Thicknor & Fields, 1989) p. xiv
2 Stewart, Abigail, and Anne Copeland, Nia Lane Chester, Janet Malley, Nicole Barenbaum, Seperating Together, how divorce transforms families (the Guildford Press, 1997) p. 233
3 Stewart, Abigail, and Anne Copeland, Nia Lane Chester, Janet Malley, Nicole Barenbaum, Seperating Together, how divorce transforms families (the Guildford Press, 1997) p. 233