How Divorce Can Sometimes Set A Good Example For Your Children About Love & Partnership

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woman hugging little girl

Staying in a marriage for the sake of the kids is a good idea, right?

This is a well-known adage by family members and well-meaning friends. However, this advice is no longer the golden rule and gets in the way of making good choices as parents.

In fact, parents are often setting a good example for their kids with divorce.

Staying in a marriage that's toxic, emotionally or physically abusive, and devoid of love is unhealthy for you and your children.

When you or your partner are always in a negative mood, angry, or unhappy due to an unfulfilling, unhealthy relationship, it’s time to let go and model healthy boundaries and self-love.

RELATED: 9 Things Kids With Divorced Parents Desperately Want You To Know

In my years of working with children and teens in private practice, I often hear kids say to me, "My parents are so unhappy. I think they would be happier apart."

Or, "I wish my parents would get a life! All they do is focus on me and everything I am or am not doing!"

Kids are often aware of the dysfunctional and strained parental relationship — even if you think you're doing a good job of hiding it.

So, if you decide to leave your marriage, you provide your children with some benefits and positive role-modeling.

Here are 6 ways you're setting a good example with divorce for your children.

1. You're helping them learn to adjust to sudden life changes.

Divorce does not predict maladjustment. It's not so much the divorce that's damaging to children, but rather the conflict that happens between parents after the divorce. That's the most damaging and detrimental to kids.

However, if you keep a working, cooperative relationship with your ex, your kids will learn healthy adjustment to the divorce.

Minimize their exposure to conflict and you increase your children’s success of healthy adjustment, post-divorce.

2. Your conflict won't push them away.

Your child is most likely aware of the problems, already. Children are very perceptive and pick up on discord and conflict between their parents. They pick up on the tension and feel uncomfortable in the home.

That can result in your child not wanting to be in the home. They'll end up spending a lot of time outside with friends, or may jump into a long-term relationship prematurely to avoid being around the tension.

3. You're not breeding resentment.

Staying can cause your child to have an unhealthy relationship with one or both parents. They may begin to resent one parent that they perceive as the difficult one or the one who is always making mom or dad unhappy.

It results in loyalty binds and kids feeling that they have to take sides to make mom or dad feel better.

RELATED: This Is What It Feels Like For Your Child When You Divorce

4. You teach them about boundaries.

When there's significant conflict, parents sometimes inappropriately confide in their children. The children feel burdened with hearing about the conflict between their parents.

Long-term, this results in kids feeling that they're responsible for making mom or dad feel better or need to act as their "counselor," by listening to their problems.

Consequently, they can’t focus on just being kids and dealing with their own problems.

5. You increase pleasure parenting on your own.

Oftentimes, when a couple divorces after years of being unhappy, they find that they can enjoy themselves and appreciate parenting again.

Kids are often excited that they have more quality time with each parent after a divorce and more undivided attention.

6. You're modeling that it’s OK to let go at some point.

You, as the parent, are modeling that if something is not working and you have genuinely given it your all, it's appropriate and OK to not continue to force something that's just not working.

This helps kids understand that sometimes letting go can be the healthiest thing for all involved.

Making the decision to end a marriage is never an easy decision, especially when children are involved, but there are positive benefits for both you and the children.

RELATED: What To Do If You Feel Stuck In An Unhappy Marriage With Kids

Monica Ramunda, MA, LPC, LCMHW, RPT-S is a Licensed Counselor in both North Carolina and Colorado and the owner of Lighthouse Counseling Services and Rocky Mountain Counseling Services. She offers parenting support and family therapy as well as counseling for young adults. Please reach out or more information on her services.

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