Leila Reyes busts the top three myths about why people think staying married is good for the kids.
Think it's noble to stay married for the kids? Think again! I'm going to give you my take on what happens when you sacrifice your own happiness for the kids. Let me tell you that I know, because I did it. In other words, I know you have really good reasons. Staying married for the kids seems like a good idea and I'm confident that your heart is in the right place. You don't want to cause your children unnecessary suffering, you want your children to have an intact family, and you want them to grow up normal. While these are all good reasons, they may backfire. Read on to see the myths behind the beliefs and why the best decision for your kids may be to just be happy.
Myth #1: Your Kids Will Be Different Than The Other Kids
Guess what? According to recent statistics, 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce. You might be shocked to learn that the divorce rate is higher for second marriages. While your kids may have been outcasts in the fifties, today it's common to be a child of divorce. Whether you stay married or not, your kids will not stand out as being different. Unless of course, you make a big deal of it. Rosalind Sedacca’s book, How to Tell the Kids About Divorce is my personal favorite recommendation because she helps you normalize the experience for your children. Divorce is a part of life — an unplanned part, but a part none-the-less.
Some people will tell their children, "We don't have a family anymore!" That's simply not true! The best gift you can give your children is to help them adjust by holding your divorce as a life transition and teaching them that they do have a family and it just looks different. No right or wrong. No judgment or blame. Just, "This is what we've got! Let's make some lemonade!"
Myth #2: Staying Will Prevent Suffering
Guess again! While I truly believe suffering is optional, circumstances aren't. Your children have just as much potential for suffering when you choose to stay in a marriage as if you leave. What are you teaching your children by staying in a loveless marriage? Are you teaching them commitment? Or are you teaching them to sacrifice their happiness for others? Your children learn from watching you more than what you say. I guarantee that if you stay in a bad relationship, then your children will learn to do the same. Do you really want your children to learn from you how to not be happy?
I'm not saying you shouldn't give your marriage all you've got. You should! If you've tried everything and have resigned yourself to an unhappy relationship, then let me take you through the Spiritual Divorce™ process or join me for a study of Spiritual Divorce and show you, in a last ditch effort, how to make your marriage work or move on with confidence you're doing the right thing for everyone — yourself and your children!
Myth #3: Your Kids Will Be Scarred For Life
Okay, maybe this one is true. But, honestly they're going to be scarred one way or another. The difference is how you handle things. How do you treat your ex? How do you talk about your ex to your kids? I'm not concerned about how your ex treats you or talks about you as that is something you have absolutely no control over and is irrelevant in relation to your kids. Remember, your kids learn by watching you.
If your divorce is nasty and painful (most are), then this may be particularly challenging for you. But, here is a truth: Your children do not need you to point out how awful your ex is. They will watch and make up their own minds. Let this experience grow you into the person you want to be and your children will be proud of you.
They will learn how to treat people by watching you. Identify three qualities to cultivate in yourself and start working on those. Teach your children, through your example, how to move on with dignity (even if you're being treated unfairly), teach your children how to take the high road, teach your children how to set boundaries without resorting to blaming or shaming to get your way.
Reality: It Doesn't Have To Be All Bad
Divorce really is awful. Everyone gets hurt, especially the kids. But, you can use your divorce as an opportunity to become more loving with yourself, to evolve your soul, to heal old wounds. I'd love to support you through the process of healing your heart, regaining your power, and creating a wonderful life for yourself and your kids in the midst of a very painful life experience. Ready? I am!
I hope the resources I shared help you, but if you need more, then Schedule a 30-minute private consultation and let's see how I can support you through this difficult transition.
More divorce advice on YourTango:
- Dating After Divorce: What You Need To Know
- How To Move On From A Painful Breakup
- The Top 5 Mistakes That Lead To Divorce