'Kids Are Resilient' And 7 Other Lies Divorcing Parents Believe

Photo: fizkes | Shutterstock
parent hugging child

Editor's Note: This is a part of YourTango's Opinion section where individual authors can provide varying perspectives for wide-ranging political, social, and personal commentary on issues.

As a former divorce mediator and current couples and family mediator, I have heard every excuse that parents use to feel better about breaking up their family.

I've outlined several of the most common divorce lies that you might be telling yourself (and your kids) if you're considering divorce.

Here are lies divorcing parents want to believe:

1. My kids want me to be happy

No, your kids want their biological mom and dad to get their act together, behave like grownups, and create a stable, happy home for them. Kids are focused on their own happiness and childhood gives them that privilege.

RELATED: 10 Healing Ways To Help Your Child Cope After A Devastating Divorce

2. My kids will be better off

Probably not. Research shows that children of divorce experience higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems. They are also more likely to experience poverty and mistreatment, whether it is outright abuse or cruel indifference, from an unrelated adult in the home.

3. My next marriage will be better

That's unlikely. Second and subsequent marriages have higher divorce rates than first marriages. Why? Because people rarely change and tend to repeat the same poor behaviors. Plus, subsequent marriages often involve stepkids and blended families, which ramps up the drama and conflict all the more.

4. My relationship with my children won't change

Yes, it will. A parent who does not live under the same roof as his or her child cannot have the same stature or influence in that child's life as a parent who does. Whether it's a 2 AM nightmare or a house fire, you're simply not there to do your job.

Regardless of the reason for the divorce, chances are good that at some point, your child will resent you for breaking up the family unit. Even worse, your child will likely blame him/herself, rationalizing that he/she was not "lovable" enough for the biological parents to work through their problems.

RELATED: Why Divorce Isn't Always A Tragedy

5. I won't have any regrets

You probably will. Once emotions have cooled and you have your distance, you'll look back and wonder whether you should have worked harder to save your marriage and family. This regret will deepen as you move into old age and realize you will never feel the pride that comes with having your children and grandchildren admire you as the family patriarch or matriarch.

6. We shouldn't stay together for the kids

Actually, I can't think of a better reason to stay and work through your problems with humility and determination. Help is out there for those who have the strength of character to be accountable and ask for it.

7. Divorce will solve my problems

If you have kids together, divorce won't solve your problems; it will only create a new set of problems. You will worry about your ex-husband's new girlfriend, and whether she'll call you if your child gets sick or scared. You will worry about your ex-wife's new boyfriend, and whether he's the one giving your child a bath.

Don't fool yourself. It's unlikely your ex-spouse will remain single for long, and once he or she starts dating, you will have no control over the strangers that waltz in and out of your child's life.

8. Kids are resilient and will adapt to this new situation

Think this won't affect them in the long term? Kids don't adapt, they make do. When you break up their home or bring your new love interests into their life, they hunker down emotionally and do their best to cope. Like it or not, you have taught them that love is unreliable. As adults, children of divorce are more likely to also be divorced and break up their own families.

RELATED: Why Our Kids Should Know Cheating Ended Your Marriage — And How To Tell Them

Of course, divorce isn't always a bad thing. It's the best course of action in some cases, such as abuse, unmanaged personality disorders, and infidelity, to name a few.

There are rare cases where one spouse is entirely at fault and where kids are better off having a destructive or dangerous parent out of their home or even out of their life.

But the fact is, most broken homes are caused by two self-focused, short-sighted adults who wallow in their own misery and rancor for one another.

They choose divorce instead of keeping their promises to work through their problems, put their spouse's needs ahead of their own, see the conflict from his or her point of view; put their obligations as parents above their own pettiness as partners and do whatever it takes to bring happiness back into their marriage and home.

Frankly, I don't see a lot of people doing this. They're quick to anger, quick to blame, and quick to bail. They always think the grass will be greener over the next fence. Personally and professionally, I think it's time for spouses to put family obligations at the top of the list, far above the shifting sands of personal desires. Why?  Because obligation provides staying power.

A sense of obligation toward your spouse and children is the glue that keeps the home together through the weak and angry spots, giving strength and love a chance to return.

It binds a couple together while they work through their problems.

A sense of obligation to others is a virtue, but it's one that our self-focused culture has largely abandoned. The ancient Romans called it pietas. In its loosest sense, it was the highly-esteemed "sacred duty" to one's biological family, one that superseded self-interest. It's an Old World virtue that the New World would be wise to embrace.

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

Debra Macleod, B.A., J.D. is a relationship coach, author, and marital mediator.

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.