Should You Stay Together for the Kids?

Should You Stay Together for the Kids?

Divorce is never easy on anyone involved, but it can be especially hard on children. If you are a parent contemplating divorce, you may be agonizing over whether it’s better for your kids for you to remain in your marriage or leave. This is a difficult situation, and there are no simple answers. Like many people in your position, you are probably asking yourself: Should you stay together for the kids?

Staying Together v. Leaving

When a marriage is no longer working and children are involved, parents have to consider several issues. If they choose to divorce, there are logistical matters such as where the kids will live and attend school and how they will see friends and family members. Additionally, divorcing parents also have to think about their children’s well-being. In other words: How will the divorce affect them emotionally? Parents in this situation often consider whether it would be less harmful to their kids if they stayed together rather than putting them through the trauma of divorce.

Divorce Hurts, but It May Be the Right Thing

As a parent, your natural instinct is to protect your kids. However, the truth is that divorce is painful. As much as you would like to insulate your children, if they are old enough to perceive what is going on in their home, they will probably be hurt. That does not mean that ending the marriage won’t ultimately be better for you, your ex, and your children. Divorce hurts, but it may be the right thing for you and your family.

Sometimes, Kids Can be Harmed When Parents Stay Together

In most cases, when parents are not getting along, children are aware of the conflict. When parents fight in front of their kids can experience severe anxiety and stress. Further, even when parents believe they are keeping disputes between themselves, children often feel and internalize the tension.

Living in an environment where parents are upset or fighting directly impacts kids and can cause them to have complicated emotions that they can’t understand or manage. Your children love you and your spouse more than anyone in the world. Seeing you unhappy with one another can lead to them internalizing your conflict.

Often, kids don’t have the emotional maturity to process their feelings in this type of circumstance, and it’s not uncommon for them to believe that what is happening is their fault. Sometimes, children in this situation feel that they can’t turn to either parent for comfort or support, even when they are in crisis. Without help, a child in this situation may experience severe depression and anxiety.

Working it Out Requires Commitment

Every family is different, and it could be that with counseling and effort, parents may be able to resolve their issues and overcome their marital problems. However, this result requires a strong commitment from both parties. Therefore, you need to consider whether you and your partner both want the same things and are willing to work towards repairing your relationship.

If one or both of you truly wants a divorce, counseling may not be an option. Further, attempting marriage counseling under these circumstances would not only be futile, but it could end up increasing your negative feelings towards one another. Wanting to stay together to protect your kids is understandable. However, if you don’t think you can work through your marital issues, you may be prolonging the inevitable.

Consider What Your Kids are Learning

Staying together for the kids not only hurts parents, but also keeps children in a stressful environment where they are observing how their parents treat one other. Your kids are looking at your marriage as their primary example of a committed romantic relationship. On some level, your interactions will become their definition of “normal.” Consider that what you are modeling now could become their concept of what a marriage should be in the future. Are they learning how to be in a loving, healthy, and mutually respectful relationship? Can you offer them that?

Getting Help for You and Your Kids

Navigating the decision to divorce can be difficult for parents and children. If you are experiencing marital conflict, you may benefit from talking with an individual therapist. It may also help your children to have the support of a neutral therapeutic professional. Additionally, you, your spouse, and your kids may want to work with a family counselor who can help provide you with the insight you need to move forward.

California Family Law Attorney

The question of whether you should stay in your marriage is complicated, especially when kids are involved. Learning more about your choices and available resources may help. If you are considering divorce and have concerns about your children, you should contact an experienced California divorce attorney. Your counsel can help you evaluate your situation and identify options that may work best for you and your kids. 

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you during all phases of your divorce. We understand how divorce can impact families and can help. Our firm assists clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.


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