Just this week, a Redditor who’d decided to file for divorce, thus ending his 10-year marriage, wanted to know how others who’d experienced unhappy homes saw the divorce of their parents.
“There is no abuse, but there is no love, either,” he said. “It is clear at this point that we are just staying together for the kids. This isn’t something that can be fixed with counseling and really we are just two people who got married too young and have too many differences.”
Huffington Post culled through the responses and condensed the takeaways into five key findings:
Parental arguments were more stressful than the divorce itself.
One Redditor said that it was “far more stressful dealing with all of the fights and drama as a kid than it would have been to spend time with each of them separately.” The Redditor’s parents didn’t end up signing divorce papers, but he admitted to wishing they had.
Staying together does not mask problems with the relationship.
Another Redditor cautioned that you’re not fooling anyone by “staying together for the kids.”
“It’s never a good idea,” he wrote. “Children are intuitive; if you’re sleeping in separate rooms they probably already know something’s wrong.”
Home life before the divorce was horrible.
“The atmosphere at home was very stifled and depressing with intermittent arguments and general unhappiness,” another Redditor stated. “I felt a lot better after moving out with my girlfriend but I realized things were only getting worse when I came home to visit my younger sisters (then 14 and six),” he added.
“In the end I know [getting a divorce] was the right thing for them to do.”
Children receive the brunt of their parents’ bad mood and negative feelings.
One user said his experience was hurtful because he ended up receiving the brunt of his parents’ bad moods. He also noted that his parents are still together. “My parents are still married even though they should’ve divorced when I was young,” he said.
“They currently seem happy and have worked through most of their issues, but all of the emotional and physical damage has already been done.”
His warning: ”If you stay together for your kids, you run the high risk of subconsciously taking out your anger toward your spouse on your kids. After all, they are the only reason you are still there.”
Adapting to the divorce as a kid isn’t that difficult.
One Redditor whose parents split when he was just five months old admitted that the nuclear family concept was a “foreign concept to me.”
“I was born in mid-November, and my dad moved out just before Christmas,” he explained. “Because of this, I never really knew what I was missing out on. I didn’t resent my dad when I was little, and simply enjoyed getting to see him.”
To this last point, it’s important to note that a thread on Reddit is hardly something that should be taken as gospel when it comes to gauging the damaging effects of divorce on children. Colleen Holbrook, a licensed social worker, notes that filing divorce forms “is hard on everyone, especially the children.”
“Depending on their ages, children can be ego-centric, which leaves them thinking they had something to do in causing the divorce or that they have the power to stop it from happening,” Holbrook explained. “Of course, neither is true. The kids do need to be heard and to have an opportunity to ask questions, express their feelings and be understood in an often confusing time.”
Also, a recent UK-based study on the effects of divorce on children revealed that parents are in denial about how difficult the outcome was on their children.
What are your thoughts — should couples work through their difficulties or leave when the feeling first presents itself? What’s better for the children?