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to think the mental impact of divorce on children is severely underestimated?

(330 Posts)

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InsanityandBeyond Wed 12-Mar-14 00:00:36

Contentious topic shock.

DC often get an absolutely shit deal when marriages break up and often have to accept their separated parents embarking on new relationships and having to be part of a 'blended' family with DCs from the stepmother/father added into the mix.

Some step/parents that complain about finding these DC hard work and their behaviour difficult to deal with. Not exactly rocket science that DC will be disturbed by having to share living space, and time with their parents, with people they are not related to and not having the security of living with, and focused attention of, both parents which is their birthright.

A lot of marriages break up way too easily these days as the parents want to be 'happy' or have 'fallen out of love', 'want a newer model' etc, etc with the DC dragged along for the ride with no choice in the matter.

In terms of abusive relationships, it could be argued that you should know your partner and their background well before bringing children into the equation which seems to be a very controversial view hmm.

Is it really impossible for adults to put their 'happiness' and new relationships, which would have an impact on their DC, on hold until their children are grown up?

The damage is often played out when they become adults as children will accept almost anything from their parents as a survival mechanism until they are old enough to question it. It is thought that DC are resilient and will get over it but I think that is a fallacy self absorbed parents tell themselves to make themselves feel better.

My 17 year old DD is the only person on her college course whose parents are still together. I find that shocking and really sad.

AIBU in thinking that this is a ticking time bomb in an explosion of mental health issues in the next generation and the implications of divorce/separation on children's mental health should be much more ingrained in the morality of society?

brokenhearted55a Wed 12-Mar-14 00:08:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

foreverondiet Wed 12-Mar-14 00:09:07


Look, I am happily married so thankfully my children are not in this situation, but I can see the difficulties suffered by my SIL - she threw out an abusive (totally vile) ex husband - probably narcissistic personality disorder, he really is awful. Her youngest child was only weeks old when he left. Are you saying she shouldn't have another relationship for 18 years? And that she should be lonely for 18 years as its better for the children.

How would you like to be single for 18 years?

Of course divorced parents should take their DCs feelings into account, but to suggest putting all new relationships on hold is unreasonable.

antimatter Wed 12-Mar-14 00:09:35

I think effect of divorces on kids is there at any age.
Some families pretend it doesn't exist, others try to cope with it, send their kids to counseling etc.

But again - in my DD's friendship group her friend overdosed today, in a family with both parents.

I feel very stressed by that she had to do it for the second time to be seen by CAMHS, she was in a very long queue waiting to be seen by a counsellor.

shakinstevenslovechild Wed 12-Mar-14 00:10:13

Dh and I decided today that we are getting a divorce because we have fallen out of love with each other, I can assure you it is not 'way too easy' it is fucking difficult. Good to know that you feel my selfish behaviour will impact on my dcs mental health though...

What would your solution be? For me to stay unhappily married for the next 14 years until my dc are all adults? Or do I have to remain single forever now?

Must be great to be so bloody perfect.

SallyMcgally Wed 12-Mar-14 00:15:49

thanks shakin. That's hard. If you think it's the right decision for all of you, it probably is.

And actually I was going to post to say that I often wish my parents had divorced. I think it might have been better for all of us. My DSis and I are both on ADs - many of my friends with divorced parents have lovely relationships with both parents and had v happy upbringings.

Newgoldheelsrock Wed 12-Mar-14 00:16:05

Wow muse be great to live life in a bubble and think that you can apply blanket statements to anyone that's been miserable in a relationship and made the very brave and very difficult decision to leave, whilst simultaneously struggling with feelings of guilt and non-stop worry over their kids' well-being.

The selfish people that they are.

I'd rather be the child of divorced parents than the child of someone who held opinions like yours

LCHammer Wed 12-Mar-14 00:16:12

I agree that there are/can be negative effects on children. However, you are also talking about an adult's life and their right to non-violence and happiness. I think you're aiming for the 'Jeremy Kyle' picture here, whereas in many families the decision will have been more thought out. Are you after a little bun fight?

Forgettable Wed 12-Mar-14 00:19:09

Some abusive behaviours by men don't become apparent til the woman becomes pg.

foreverondiet Wed 12-Mar-14 00:19:32

"In terms of abusive relationships, it could be argued that you should know your partner and their background well before bringing children into the equation which seems to be a very controversial view"

I do think this is a message we should be teaching our daughters. In terms of my sister in law, well her EX husband went through cycles of being totally charming, and cycles of abuse, and she kept on fooling herself that he would stop being abusive and would be charming again. Because she had fallen in love with with the charming version of him.

Further when she suggested to my MIL that she was thinking of leaving him during an abusive phase (after just one DC) my deeply religious MIL as AGHAST because of wedding vows / shame on family / old fashioned religious views. It was made clear to her that she had to persevere as he was her husband.

What I am trying to say is its not always straight forward.

Forgettable Wed 12-Mar-14 00:20:26

And fancy wanting to be happy (why in inverted commas, "happy"?)

DameFanny Wed 12-Mar-14 00:21:32

Better to be from a broken home than still living in one.

Maybe you should volunteer to answer the phones on a domestic violence helpline before you rush to judgement OP.

Cuxibamba Wed 12-Mar-14 00:21:59

I think divorce affects children a lot. But seeing their parents stay in an unhappy relationship, imo, affects them negatively too- to a larger extent.

SallyMcgally Wed 12-Mar-14 00:22:06

I suspect it's never straightforward, forever, and never, ever easy.

manicinsomniac Wed 12-Mar-14 00:23:21

I don't know, it's really hard. I don't think I could go through with a relationship because it's always just been me and my girls and I'd be terrified of destroying what we have by bringing an unrelated adult into the mix.

On balance though, I think YABU. I'm a teacher and have taught countless pupils of divorced parents who are damaged by it, countless who aren't, countless pupils of together parents who are fine and many who are not fine for other reasons. It all depends on how the parents handle the divorce and on what else is going on in the family's life.

Life isn't all ideal sweetness and light. Shit happens. To everyone. And most of us learn to deal with it.

Jinsei Wed 12-Mar-14 00:23:44

Ridiculous, OP. Children are far more likely to be damaged by their parents staying together in an unhappy marriage. You sound very smug.

I'm married to dd's father btw, and intend on staying that way, so no personal axe to grind.

TheMaw Wed 12-Mar-14 00:25:44

I would think it's much more damaging for kids to grow up with their parents fighting and being unhappy.

Your comment about abusive relationships is really weird - is that how YOU personally feel? It's a bizarre comment, many relationships become abusive after major life events: babies, redundancy, previously unknown mental health issues - knowing your partners background wouldn't make the slightest difference in these cases.

plutarch14 Wed 12-Mar-14 00:31:54

YANBU to say that divorce affects children's mental health - it undoubtedly does in many cases.

But... if the situation is bad, what is the alternative? You should never let your children stay in a situation where they are exposed to abuse either directed at them or someone else. That is so much worse.

I struggled for a while because my parents got a divorce when I was 9, and I do believe it was a rough patch they could have worked through but didn't try. I found them having new relatonships and 2 separate houses difficult and resented it for a long time. But, they are happy with new people and I am happy(ish) and functional. My childhood wasn't perfect but it was OK.

phoebeflangey Wed 12-Mar-14 00:45:03

What a totally ignorant post Op, with the exception of how divorce could affect children.
I'm in what I feel early stages of the end of my marriage, ex became very abusive and a drug addict after I became of with dd who is now 12. It breaks my heart to know she saw and heard things no child ever should, but I know categorically that I, and more importantly my dd are much better off without him in our lives, controlling manipulating and lying his way through his messed up life.
If that means I'm a bad mother, then thanks for making me feel much much worse.

phoebeflangey Wed 12-Mar-14 00:45:23

Pg not of?!

bragmatic Wed 12-Mar-14 00:49:08

Divorcing or separating parents who make a hash of things, and let their bitter feelings play out in public, and/or pick an entirely unsuitable step parent fuck up their children. It is possible for a marriage to dissolve and for the members of the family to remain emotionally intact.

Even if everything is amicable, then I'm sure that it can be quite devastating and upsetting for children, especially if they are very young - but no more than any other very sad event - like the death of a grandparent, or pet or whatever. It doesn't have to be something that children can't recover from.

BillyBanter Wed 12-Mar-14 00:55:07

I think the damage caused to children living in an abusive home, or even just an unhappy one, is often underestimated, especially by people who feel obliged, often by the other partner, to stay in a marriage' for the sake of the kids'.

Being a nuclear family can be done well, or done badly. Splitting up and co parenting can be done well or done badly.

shakinstevenslovechild Wed 12-Mar-14 01:06:07

Thanks Sally it certainly isn't the easy option the op seems to think it is.

PenelopeLane Wed 12-Mar-14 01:15:27

My parents divorced when I was 22 and it would have been better if it had happened years earlier, it's not nice growing up in a house with parents who aren't happy. I also thought their relationship was normal until they split up as well, and so glad I realised it wasn't before I got married myself.

People pick up neuroses and issues for all sorts of things, including your DD. It's also worth you not articulating your views to her as she moves into adulthood as well unless you want to risk having a daughter in a terrible relationship and her being too scared to talk to you about it

wobblyweebles Wed 12-Mar-14 01:22:14

My parents divorced when I was young.

I'm very pleased they both remarried. Their second marriages have lasted nearly 40 years now.

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