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to think the mental impact of unhappily married parents on children is severely underestimated?

(34 Posts)
Qix Wed 12-Mar-14 13:05:28

How come when studies look at the impact of divorce on children they compare the outcomes of children of divorced parents with the population as a whole? Surely they should compare the outcomes of children of divorce with the outcomes of children of unhappily married parents?

Or maybe I'm missing something and there is such a study and I've missed it? Always possible grin

My parents are divorced and for me parental unhappiness is a massive burden far beyond the simple logistics of who lives where.

SinisterBuggyMonth Wed 12-Mar-14 13:09:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Wed 12-Mar-14 13:12:00

I've seen on mumsnet that outcomes for children with divorced parents are better than those with unhappy married parents. Couldn't give you a source myself but whoever said it originally did.

So - no - YANBU.

It seems it is parents not lovi g each other that causes e damage - not where they live. (Note to self - be nicer to dh!)

elliebe13 Wed 12-Mar-14 13:13:20

Yanbu, when my parents told me they were getting divorced I asked them why they hadn't done it earlier as I can always remember them hating each other. Wasn't happy. My poor mother ! It's definitely had an effect on me and my relationships hmm

MrsMcEnroe Wed 12-Mar-14 13:14:27


cardamomginger Wed 12-Mar-14 13:16:58

YANBU. My parents had a very unhappy marriage and my mother did little to hide her utter disdain for my father. The tensions in our house when I was growing up were dreadful. The only saving grace of them not divorcing is that I would doubtless have been given to my mother to look after. Given that she was a PA NP of the worst kind, things may well have got a lot worse than they actually did.

Hoppinggreen Wed 12-Mar-14 13:17:01

I used to pray for my parents to get divorced !
They eventually did when I was in my 20's, I asked my mum why she had stayed with my dad for so long ( narcissist) and she says she thought it would be best to wait until I left home - wrong mother, very wrong!!!!!

SallyMcgally Wed 12-Mar-14 13:24:32

I wish my parents had divorced.
Victor Hugo says something somewhere about pitying the child whose parents are in an ordinary family set-up and yet who don't parent him/ her. That child is, he says, as badly off as the orphan. But at least the orphan is able to turn to other people to be looked after.
People know to look out for children in a divorce. There can be a huge weight of misery attaching to children in unhappy 'conventional' families, and it can very easily be overlooked as nobody knows to look out for it.

RalphRecklessCardew Wed 12-Mar-14 13:25:13

How though? There isn'

Beatrixemerald Wed 12-Mar-14 13:25:48

My dsd shudders at the thought of her parents together. Lovely though they both are they are both extremely fiery and are both now married to much more placid laid back people. They split when dsd was 2, she is now 15 and has no memory of her parents together but they do get on really well as friends which helps. Each situation is unique and whats generally going to have the best outcome is parents putting their children's needs first, that could either be by splitting up or staying together.

RalphRecklessCardew Wed 12-Mar-14 13:26:15

Sorry. There isn't a database of unhappy marriages.

Qix Wed 12-Mar-14 13:26:59

Yes. I remember lying in bed and hearing my parents rowing and that being horrid, horrid, horrid. Of course my parents would not have known how damaging it was as everything was unspoken. I internalised all that fear and hurt.

sleeplessbunny Wed 12-Mar-14 13:27:02

I begged my mum to divorce my dad. She wouldn't break up the family for "the sake of the children". It was absolutely the wrong decision, sadly.

Qix Wed 12-Mar-14 13:28:18

There isn't a database, but I'm surprised that some social scientist hasn't managed to find a way of identifying such families and tracking their outcomes.

StrawberryCheese Wed 12-Mar-14 13:29:07

Yanbu. My mum found out about getting a divorce when I was 9. She was advised to hang on in there unless she wanted to end up with nothing. She told me all this... Did I mention I was just 9!

My parents eventually divorced when I was 18. Those extra 9 years of being acutely aware of how unhappy my parents were(and the fact that dad and I didn't get on) really messed me and my brother up. Divorce isn't a nice thing to go through but it's far better than staying together for the sake of the kids.

Qix Wed 12-Mar-14 13:29:18

Or you could ask people 'were your parents happily married?' (I think most people could give a pretty accurate answer to that) and base your study on that?

Nocomet Wed 12-Mar-14 13:36:17

YANBU, but you are waving a large stirring spoon wink

DD2 hates it when DH and me fight, DD1 takes us with a much larger pinch of salt.

DD2 makes friends very easily, DD1 doesn't. She understands that her sometimes fiery eccentric parents aren't going to throw away 20 plus years of being best friends over something stupid. She's know this since she was a toddler because she's very like us.

DD2 however is very useful, she reminds us both to cool it a bit when we are being unreasonable.

BornFreeButinChains Wed 12-Mar-14 13:36:43

I wish mine had separated far far earlier.

However in both cases, un happy parents, divorced or together does have an effect on the children.

ormirian Wed 12-Mar-14 13:41:15

Define 'unhappily married'.

Do you mean parents who have screaming row regularly and are constantly sniping?
Do you mean parents who are civil but not really connected?
Do you mean parents who love each other but don't spend all their time in each other's pockets?

Because I have seen all three described as 'unhappily married' on here.

I suspect for most, children parents who are pleasantly civil would be good enough.

Qix Wed 12-Mar-14 13:45:47

Of course divorce has an effect. I am recently divorced myself and I can see that.

I do think that they way divorce is handled had a massive effect.

I get what you're saying about 'how would you define unhappily married', but I think a hell of a lot of parents think that they're hiding the unhappiness of their marriage from their kids, but they're kidding themselves.

I think that sometimes people use staying together for the kids as a way of making themselves feel better about being scared of leaving.

Qix Wed 12-Mar-14 13:46:58

ormirian You've seen number 3 on your list described as 'unhappily married'? confused

BackOnlyBriefly Wed 12-Mar-14 13:55:12

YANBU, like others I might have had a normal life if my parents hadn't hung on for the sake of the children.

That's not to say that people shouldn't at least try and make it work, but if it's not fixable then face it and split up.

ormirian Wed 12-Mar-14 13:57:15

Yes. Along the lines of 'if you don't spend all your time together you clearly don't really love each other'. And yes I thought it was so much bollocks too. Have also seens it used on infidelity forums to justify an affair 'well they don't do things together so clearly it's a dead marriage' .

InsanityandBeyond Wed 12-Mar-14 13:58:22

I suspect for most children, parents who are pleasantly civil would be good enough.

Many don't have the self control to do this for the sake of their DC. I really don't think DC have to see their parents 'happy' and 'in love' all the time to set them a good example. It sets them a benchmark that is impossible to live up to.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 12-Mar-14 13:59:48


A leedle bit norty, but NU.

I remember my Mum coming into my bed because she was scared of my Dad.

They both happily re-married, till death did them part, I have fab half-sisters and a lovely step-mother.

I'm a bit weird in some ways, y'know, I quite fancy Gary Barlow, I love the Eurovision Song Contest. But I wouldn't be right to blame that on my parents not being married, would I?

That would be scapegoating and burying my head in the sand about my own issues by slinging shit at other people, which would be very wrong of me.

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