Everyone knows, when the time comes where the person who used to give you butterflies now gives you nausea, you bail. We’ve all been through it – our one true love, soul mate, can’t live without lover-slash-best-friend-slash beacon of support becomes nothing more than the person we can’t bear to spend another minute with. So we end it. Or they do, because maybe we’re too whipped, scared to be alone, frozen with finance troubles, or all of the above.
Or maybe you stay for the kids. Or do you? In terms of life-changing-wholy-shit-what-do-I dos, that’s the toughest one of all. I mean really, what’s worse – coming from, or being raised in a broken home?
Listen, I know as a recovering addict and former goddess of the stripper pole, you’re dying for my take. Many peeps see me as a shining example for mom and dad to stay together (my dad split when I was two, after falling in love with a co-worker). But is it the deadbeat dad’s (important to note: not all fathers who leave are deadbeat dads) fault when their daughter chooses the stripper life? (as Chris Rock so eloquently tells us “My only job in life [as a father], is to keep my baby off the pole.”).
If only life were that simple. Every stripper has a story, just like every parent has a reason. ALL of us have an opinion. Here’s the part where you get to share yours.
Question on deck:
Are you a child of divorce – or forced togetherness? Are you in a relationship where the only thing keeping you from leaving is your kids? Do you know anyone in this situation?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below (anonymous is ok). Your insight and opinion may help more than you know.
31 thoughts on “Should you stay for the kids?”
I’m a product of divorce and I am glad that my parents decided to split. They tried to keep their voices down while fighting, but I could always hear through the walls (I was 9 years old when Mom left Dad). In addition, their divorce gave me an extended step-family and ultimately a half sister who means the world to me. The divorce was incredibly ugly and brutal at first, but we all eventually adjusted and turned out just fine.
And finally, my husband divorced his ex-wife of about 6 years and his children (my now stepchildren) are incredibly happy, grounded and well adjusted.
This is great – thanks Ali! I think it’s all brutal – but it’s really about the end result, isn’t it? Two happy parents under two roofs are better than two miserable ones under one, I think. But so much easier said than done, I know…
Just my opinion, my husband and I are committed to raising our children in a sane and silly to say, happy home. We’ve agreed if either one wants out, they’re out, but we raise our sons together. After all, they didn’t choose to be part of this insane world, we did, and we owe them love and respect!! As they do us! My parents are still together, his are deceased. I’m happy to say we have well adjusted, average, very happy twin 15 yr old boys! As for marriage, if you give it a shot, give it a life, if you can’t, then go your own way, nothing wrong with that. Just DON’T ever forget your kids. Oh, and it help’s to love the one you choose!!
I like your thinking, Patrice! Yes, go your seperate ways, but never forget about your kids! It’s amazing to me how some parents can do that… leaving a spouse doesn’t need to mean leaving your kids.
My parents divorced when I was about 8 years old. I think divorce is awful, and the repercussions last for a long time afterward. But I think the best thing you can do for your kids is to be happy, and if that means getting divorced, then a person should do it. What’s really unfortunate for kids is that most people don’t handle divorce graciously or conduct themselves in a way that is admirable.
Totally agree. Too many adults behave like they are the children! Graciously and admirable is a very good way to put it. It’s an opportunity for the kids to learn lessons about that.
My parents divorced when I was 15 – while it was painful to live through at the time, I don’t think it affected me in the long run because as I grew up and became my own person, I came to understand both sets of reasons for why they separated. For me, this allowed me to realise they were both pretty nasty people in their own way and released me from trying to please both of them while not letting the other know. I maybe screwed up in my own way since I have become an adult, but I’ve never thought I wasn’t better off for closing the door on that part of my life.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Sounds like you have a very healthy outlook!
I have been fortunate enough that in my 19 year marriage my hubby and I have been able to meet in the middle. This being said, when we hit our bumps in the road we knew it needed to be dealt with because our daughter’s behavior would change. The way I see it, if you are unhappy, your child will be unhappy. Divorce is messy but life can be cleaned up afterward. Staying in a loveless marriage – no amount of Mr.Clean can clean up that mess.
“If you are unhappy, then your child will be unhappy” – Exactly!
Isn’t the answer obvious? Does anybody think they should stay in a shitty marriage for any reason at all? Fix it or get out. As for kids, yes, of course the most important part of a divorce is the children. They need to know you love them and always will, that it isn’t their fault at all, and that you will continue to be their parent and be with them forever. It does help tremendously to get along with your ex, but if you have hatred there and can’t get over it, just be sure to NEVER display that hatred in front of the kids, ever ever ever.
You’d be amazed just HOW many people are staying in loveless marriages because of the kids! Whether it’s their religious faith (which I respect), or just old fashioned pride (“I am NOT a failure”), it’s sad because the kids are the ones getting the raw deal. They are the ones “stuck”, not the parents. The parents can make the choice to construct a happy co-parenting situation.
It’s a time-old question…And it’s time-old because there’s not an easy answer. Everyone (one would like to think) enters marriage with life-long commitment in mind…But as we all know, that simply isn’t always the case. My parents divorced when I was 7, and it absolutely molded me to have one single drive in life – To be the best Dad that I can be to my kids. And it also led me to a promise to myself, and that is to never allow my kids to go through a divorce…I went through a hellish one, and I vowed when I was 7 that I’d never put my kids through that.
Fast-forward to today, and I’m hurtling up to the cusp of a 19 year marriage that is absolutely teetering on the edge of divorce. My kids are spectacular, wonderful, and unique kids. Extremely well-adjusted and happy. In fact, everything is great in the household except for the fact that my wife and I might as well be siblings rather than spouses. We love each other, but certainly are not in love with each other. And don’t even think about intimacy – I’m a very passionate being and we haven’t done anything together in over 7 (i think more like 8) years, except for once – And that produced child number 3 (he was wanted). We’ve been to counseling, and reached the point where the counselor told us that we can keep coming to him and paying him, but there’s nothing more he can do for us. There’s simply too much mis-communication, way to much pain and misunderstanding, to make it right. And now I’m at the point where I don’t want to…As I explained to her, it’s not about looks (she’s beautiful)..I told her to go ask Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt if they’d like to sleep together. They are two of the best-looking people out there, but with all the pain they’ve been through together, they’d most likely say “No, Thank you” – But that is all very easy to say to myself. It’s much harder looking in the eyes of my children – Because they certainly wouldn’t feel it’s right.
I know – A loveless marriage is the wrong example to set for the kids, etc., etc. We don’t fight, get along fine as parenting partners, just absolutely no connection other than the kids. Trust me – I’m well aware of every logical/emotional argument to be made as to why this marriage should be ended. And it will be. But I’ve continued to hesitate because I know the pain it will bring – And yes, I know they’ll get over it and be fine later in life…However, as a father, it’s very hard for me to do something that is ultimately for the most part selfish (I want an adult, loving relationship with someone who wants the same thing. Someone to LIVE with, rather than exist with. Someone whom I can lavish love onto and to receive it in return, kiss the ground she walks on, put her on a pedestal, take on the world back-to-back, all of those things), and for me to make that happen, I have to watch that pain in their eyes. I’m not there yet. Mind you, I’m extremely close, but FUCK that’s my worst nightmare. So in the meantime I just make sure they know love every second of the day that I’m not parenting them. It’s coming, and in the end it will be worth it and everyone will be fine – I just have a very hard time pulling the trigger. Wimp? Maybe. Concerned Dad? Definitely. Miserable husband? Yup. It will end…And sooner than later. Just don’t know when…
Wow Musings – I don’t know who you are, but can tell you I have a (male) friend that could’ve written this himself. I am so sorry for the weight of this unbelievalbe problem.
I have no advice to give, other than share with you some insight from a personal email I recieved on this subject:
He says: “Kids are extremely resillant. And if you handle the split well with them (and your soon-to-be ex), then the transition will be easier on the kids”
Everything parents do is teaching the kids about how we relate to circumstance. A big worry for not pulling the trigger is that you are teaching your kids what romantic love is – and it’s not sibling behavior.
Hang in there – you seem to be a wonderful father and man.
I am so saddened my musings of a middle age kid. My heart is so heavy for him. The best thing you can do for your children is be your best, happiest self. Yes, try hard. Take it seriously. Don’t give up easily. But, for Christ’s Sake, live you life! Your kids are going to grow up and be on their own and you’ll be left with…what? The key is a good divorce is respecting one another during the process. Teaching your children that you can treat a person who you can’t stand and totally disagree with…with respect…is an amazing lesson! Divorce is destructive because of how people act during it. If musings of a middle age kid REALLY cares that much about his kids, then when he DOES get divorced, he will always speak kindly of his ex-wife. He will always take the high road. He will give her more than she needs…even if she is awful! (and the same goes for her) I have never looked back and regretted treating someone I couldn’t stand with respect and kindness.
Then the kids will be fine and they can both find true happiness!
I feel the same way. I adore you, missy.
People who don’t take the vows of marriage seriously should never be allowed to marry in the first place, and they definitely shouldn’t have kids! If a couple marries they should be mature enough to work through their issues (just think how much you hated your siblings at one point in your younger years, worked it out and got over it.) Every relationship has ups and downs. People are not for discarding because they don’t always get along with each other; how can ANY relationship survive if the mentality is “the grass is always greener on the other side?”. Anyone who says that divorce won’t have an adverse effect on their children is a fool. YOU are your childs role model and YOUR actions mold their future and their way of thinking. Don’t like your spouse? Suck it up, buttercup. You should have been more selective.
You say “Anyone who says that divorce won’t have an adverse effect on their children is a fool”, and I agree. But the same can be said for staying.
You also say: “YOU are your child’s role model and YOUR actions mold their future and their way of thinking.” I couldn’t agree MORE.
Siblings and romantic partners are totally different. As parents you are teaching your kids all about love, care, trust and respect in the ways of how you live with your partner. People evolve. People grow apart, wise up, begin or end recovery. The case by case stories are endless in why two parents make the healthy choice to co-parent under two roofs.
It’s much healthier to have kids grow up learning about two adults who once loved one another to start a family, but mature and healthy (and smart) enough to know when to turn the page.
I’d rather be from two healthy homes, than under one roof, where my parents “sucked it up”. Talk about the damage to a kid for feeling that kind of GUILT.
I appreciate your comment and readership – but respectfully disagree.
My parents divorced when I was 5, and it was a good thing, too. The horrible fighting and yelling stopped and both my mom and dad could better focus on me and my siblings. I gained a step-mom who is a wonderful part of my life (we fought growing up, but have a close relationship now that I’m an adult). Even though at times growing up I was sad, I got over it. They made a good decision.
As for me, I always swore that I wouldn’t get divorced and would be selective in choosing my partner. In fact, I had turned down a couple other offers (and ended the relationships), because I didn’t feel the person would be a good fit as a life-long partner. When I did make the decision to get married, my husband and I each came to the marriage with a child who didn’t have their other parents in their lives anymore (for a few excellent reasons). Step-parenting does have challenges.
At any rate,fast forward several years, we now have a child together. That child is now five. We haven’t gotten along in years and have spent more time in couple counseling than not. I have given many, many chances for the marriage to work, but it hasn’t. Our divorce should be final in the next couple of weeks. Ours is an unusual situation in that, even going through a divorce, we still tried to make it work. I feel he has guilt-tripped me into staying in an unhappy marriage for the kids, but I’ve realized I am a much better parent when I am happy, without unnecessary conflict and stress. This means we will be moving our separate ways very soon. It’s taken a long time for us both to come to terms with this, and I think he still hasn’t accepted it.
Kids need a healthy example of what a loving marriage is. I don’t want my children to grow up and end up in a similarly unhappy marriage because it is all they have known. I’d rather them see us as happy, good parents, even if in two homes.
That’s my take. Don’t stay for the kids, but do respect each other for the kids.
I’m sorry for the incredibly hard time you are going through Miranda and thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
Your last sentence says it all. xxoo
I come from a broken home, and it left me damaged. However, that is nothing compared to how damaged I would have been had my mother not had the strength to leave my drunken, violent father. As I grew up, I held resentment towards my mother because I didn’t know my father, but I have realised that it was the right, indeed only, decision she could have taken, and I’m proud of her for having the strength to do so.
To me, the whole point of parenthood is to teach your children the lessons and values that will get them through life. Staying in a poor, unhappy relationship teaches only that the parents don’t feel as though they deserve to be happy themselves, and I feel this is the wrong lesson. When you teach a child that individual happiness is unimportant, they will take that lesson on board, and chances are that ingrained view will replicate itself later in life. Without realising it, you are preparing your children for unhappy relationships, because they learn more from example than words.
It is far better for a child to have happy, separated parents than unhappy parents who stick together. You think you can keep things like this from a child, but you can’t. Children have intuition too, they know when something isn’t right. The traditional 2.4 children family unit is becoming less frequent, and it is no longer unusual for children to have parents who live apart. If you are unhappy in a relationship, and it is unfixable, then you leave. Aside from the children, becoming a parent doesn’t stop you from being a person, and every person deserves a chance at happiness. Give yourself that, and you teach your child to take chances at happiness too.
A good friendship between parents is more important and a better example than the transparent illusion of a happy marriage. All anybody wants is to see the people they love happy, even if it is separate, rather than together.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Andrew. Very true about lessons!
I am that person who was told by my mother to stay in my horrible abusive marriage for my kids! I did for a few years until i really had enough of being hit and i had gotten the courage to leave one nite when i was out with some friends. I literally went home and kicked him out of the house and we never saw or heard from him again…except in court! He is a dead beat dad and it has been do far a hard life for me financially but it has also been a peaceful 8 years and im sooooo happy i made the decision to leave. We havent seen the kids dad in 8 years and none of us miss him or talk about him. Our life is happy and we survived what i didn’t think we would!
Oh Lisa! I had NO idea.. what a strong and amazing woman and mother you are. Seriously. I’m sure your mom thought she was giving you her best advice – and I’m so happy you left him too! Many hugs xxoo
I should know the answer to this. But I don’t. I just know it’s complicated and not at all black and white and I think it depends on how functional the parents behave.
My dad was an alcoholic. So the relationship between my parents HAD to die. It just had to for me and my siblings, for my mother’s sake. I was affected more by witnessing verbal and physical abuse between my parents than by their divorce, finally, when I was a senior in high school. My dad was a jack ass, absent even when married, had affairs, didn’t work so we lived in poverty. It was a terrible environment for anyone, let alone 4 kids. I was relieved when they divorced. My relationship with my dad or lack of relationship probably shaped my relationships with boys and men more than the actual divorce.
I’m married now to a man who was married, divorced when his children were 3 and 5. Both my husband and his ex wife were miserable and I think early on they both knew it was a mistake but were hopeful it would turn around. It didn’t. He wanted to stay married for the kids. She didn’t want to and initiated the divorce. He has tried to maintain relationships with his now teenage daughters, but felt shut out as they got older, their mother not including him in decisions, discipline etc. He feels guilt; he feels lack of control. He feels his kids will blame him. And he believes that when divorced parents say that kids are resilient and will be ok, that’s the lie that they tell themselves to feel better about it their choices.
So I guess it comes down to just behaving with each other and being highly functional for your kids’ sakes, regardless if your married or divorced. Still, I don’t know. The whole thing is really sad to me.
Thanks for sharing your story. You’re right. The whole thing is really sad. But the positive, is that it doesn’t need to be worse, by parents who don’t respect one another. And, there are silver linings to every cloud. Lessons with every heartache.
So true. And really, at the core, I think it’s not about being divorced or staying together. It is about being mutually respectful, present parents. My husband’s parents have been married for almost 50 years, seem to like and love each other, but I swear you’d think my husband was was raised by wolves. Both were rotten parents, for different reasons. His dad belittled him and played mind games with him constantly through childhood and into adult hood (you’re stupid, you’re embarrassing, he’d pick fights out of the blue etc). His mother was basically checked out from parenting, allowing my husband to act out and get away with stuff, probably because she felt bad that his dad was such a jerk. My husband, like most people I know, is damaged, maybe even more than I am on some level; my childhood was so obviously effed up by my family. My husband’s, on the other hand, was seemingly perfect from the outside, the suburban, upper middle class fairy tale, except like most fairy tales, there was some seriously dark shit going on.
Thanks for this topic. A little emotional housekeeping is good.
Thanks for sharing more of your story. It’s a difficult subject to discuss, and everyone has their opinions, but either way you slice it, it’s not easy.
But through darkness, I believe is the brightest light. And children are products of what they witness. As long as there is love – no matter who, how where, when, they’ll be better off. Love. That simple. And that complex!