Thursday, February 25, 2010

stay together for the kids?

so i'm writing a research paper for my parenting and child guidance class on whether or not parents should "stay together for the kids." what are your thoughts? do you think it's better for parents to divorce or stick it out for the sake of their children? any experiences? (i have to have 2 personal experiences;)


smalldog said...

I think it has a great deal to do with the problems couples face. The only thing that kep my parents together was the fact that my father didn't believe in divorce and took the words "in sickness and in health" very seriously (my parents married before joining the LDS church). My mother had crippling depression and was nearly driven to suicide. She bahaved horribly to him and to the kids. However, years of therapy and constantly trying new treatments later, she's off anti-depressants and fully functional!

My father told me (which I wish he hadn't) that there were many times he wanted to leave us. Not because he didn't love us, but because he felt like my mother didn't love him and abused him (which she did, in many ways), but his desire to live up to his vows was the driving force in his many decisions to stay. My parents' marriage has been hard, but they are both better people for it. Happiness hasn't come naturally, it's been something they have to fight for.

For me though, there is a huge difference between depression (and other medical wedges being driven between couples) and something like infidelity, which is a choice. I think parents who have been the victim of an unfaithful partner, abuse, chronic lying, or behavior that puts the family physically, financially, and morally at stake have a good reason (for the kids) to get out of the enviroment.

Grettir said...

As smalldog said, it's hard to generalize due to the unique set of problems faced by each couple. But beyond that, I would suggest that you may be asking the wrong question.

"Should parents stay together for the sake of the kids?" is nigh unto unanswerable. For one thing, the question itself is loaded. It implies that staying together would somehow automatically be beneficial for the children's "sake" or "well-being."

Second, it casts "staying together" as an unsatisfactory outcome; something for which the parents must settle because it will somehow benefit their offspring.

And, third, the question is so laden with social and psychological baggage that most people think of it more as a buzz-phrase than an honest inquiry. As a result, they simply trot out a canned response based on what they think they're supposed to say rather than provide a thoughtful response.

But if you reverse the question and ask, "Should parents get divorced for the sake of the kids?" things get much simpler.

Has the family situation degraded to the point where the children's lives would be demonstrably better if the parents divorced? That's a much easier question to answer.

Is one of the parents unhealthy or unstable enough that they represent a significant risk to the children's safety and well-being? That question is even easier.

In almost every case I know of where a caring and thoughtful parent has chosen divorce, it was never a question of staying together for the sake of the kids. It was a question of getting the kids out of a situation that no child should have to endure.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't done so already, I would read Dallin H. Oaks talk on Divorce:

I absolutely agree with the following quotes from the talk:

"We know that many of you are innocent victims—members whose former spouses persistently betrayed sacred covenants or abandoned or refused to perform marriage responsibilities for an extended period. Members who have experienced such abuse have firsthand knowledge of circumstances worse than divorce."

"When a marriage is dead and beyond hope of resuscitation, it is needful to have a means to end it. I saw examples of this in the Philippines. Two days after their temple marriage, a husband deserted his young wife and has not been heard from for over 10 years. A married woman fled and obtained a divorce in another country, but her husband, who remained behind, is still married in the eyes of the Philippine law. Since there is no provision for divorce in that country, these innocent victims of desertion have no way to end their married status and go forward with their lives."

"Think first of the children. Because divorce separates the interests of children from the interests of their parents, children are its first victims. Scholars of family life tell us that the most important cause of the current decline in the well-being of children is the current weakening of marriage, because family instability decreases parental investment in children. We know that children raised in a single-parent home after divorce have a much higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, poor school performance, and various kinds of victimization."

I definitely think there needs to be a balance. Each case is fact dependent. If there is abuse involved, I think it would have a worse effect on the kids than that of staying married for their sake. So in certain situations divorce should be an option. However, if the reason for divorce is pure selfishness or laziness, I definitely think you should be unselfish and put your kids first and work it out together.

My parents were divorced, and I have seen some of the negative effects in my siblings. I have also seen some of the regret in my parents. While I can't judge their reasons for divorce, I decided to make the best out of the situation and learn from what I perceived as their mistakes and make sure that nothing like that happens in my own marriage. So for me, although divorce has caused a lot of pain to my siblings and me, it also has had a positive effect on my own marriage. Seeing the consequences of divorce firsthand has caused me continually check myself to make sure I am doing everything to keep my spouse happy and our marriage strong.

Kelli said...

So I do have a lot to say about this topic. But like everyone has said before, each situation is different and probably needs to be handled differently. I would say that staying together (if there is no hope for the parents marriage in the future to ever be fixed) staying together for the kids is not helping anyone, not even the kids. Why live a lie? The kids deserve to have the best parenting possible. this can't be done if the husband and wife are living miserably together, "just for the kids" I think it would be better for the husband and wife to divorce and live apart so that they can get rid of their martial problems while raising children. Next they need to work on raising their kids in the best possible way from two different households, this is not ideal obviously. But it can be done. Anyways I have more to say, but not time to say it. Love ya KARA!