Put Children First During Divorce

Although divorce is sometimes unavoidable and can ultimately be for the best for all parties involved, the decision to dissolve a marriage should never be taken lightly.

As the above BuzzFeed video illustrates, divorce can have long-lasting effects years down the road not just for you, but also your children. In the clip, several adults whose parents divorced when they were kids reflect on how the split altered their lives.

A couple women explain how they fear commitment and struggle in their dating lives because of their parents’ split. One guy talks about how he wakes up every morning with the fear that he might follow in his father’s footsteps.

They describe pain, loneliness, confusion and guilt.

Years later, the emotion is still painfully raw.

“Because we all have these ideas of what we’re supposed to be doing and I think that only exacerbated the feeling of my family is different or there’s something different from my experience growing up because my parents aren’t together,” said one interviewee.

Although the divorce rate has been declining since the 1980s, far too many couples treat the decision to end their marriage haphazardly. That should never be the case, especially when you have children.

Children of divorce face numerous risks. They’re more likely to fall behind in school, both academically and socially. They have more health problems. They’re more likely to suffer from anxiety, stress and low self-esteem.

And as several of the adults in the above video articulated, the effects of divorce can linger well into adulthood. Adults who come from divorced families are more likely to divorce themselves and, according to a Columbia University study, are 14 percent more likely to commit suicide.

None of this is to say you should stay in a marriage that is clearly broken solely for your children. Exposing your kids to a toxic relationship can be every bit as bad as putting them through a divorce.

But once you and your spouse decide to go your separate ways, you need to do everything possible to work together to ease the transition for your children. Consider child-centered divorce strategies. Work together to establish an effective shared-parenting plan, because research has shown having access to both parents is the best way to mitigate the harmful effects of a divorce.

One of the interviewees in the BuzzFeed video discusses how difficult it was to hear his parents badmouth each other.

Even if your relationship with your ex remains contentious, don’t bring that bitterness around your kids. That is still the mother of their children and they will respect you much more if you remain respectful and considerate.

You’ll also want to keep your children in mind once you transition into your next relationship and start dating again. Don’t rush into a rebound relationship and take your time before introducing your new girlfriend to your children.

Although divorce is hard on kids, it doesn’t doom them for failure. They can still be just as happy and well-adjusted as a child with two happily married parents, but it will take a lot of unselfishness and cooperation from you and your ex to ensure there is no lasting bitterness.


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