A lot of people make a big deal about divorce rates in the western world. But simple logic suggests that the amount of legally failed marriages is far lower than the amount of actually failed marriages. And I’d be willing to bet your money that the primary cause of this difference is children.
“We’ll stay together for the sake of the children.”
But, when is “for the sake of the children” no longer to the benefit of the children? When is a family better off divided than united..?
It’s hard to say, of course.
Who knows, really, but the one in it – the one living it?
They’re hard work. They’re a lot of work. And they can suck.
Cause over a long enough period of time living with another person – spending nearly all your days, and all your life with them, paying bills or not paying bills, chasing kids and running a home – it’s only natural that most people come to hate or resent that person.
Or a lot.
It’s understandable, even – considering the sresses, and responsibilities, and pressures.
So why do they do it, then?
Why do so many stay together when there’s seemingly nothing holding them together? Why do they surrender their happiness to misery? Why do they waste what little time they have on a relationship that not only angers them, but hurts them? What could possibly mean more to them than them Selves?
Umm…their children, of course.
And so by staying in their crappy relationship, the parents are trying to do the right thing for their children.
They’re trying to do what’s best for their children.
They’re trying to maintain a certain continuity in their lives – that their kid can keep the same school, the same friends, the same way of life they’ve known and grown around.
They’re trying to keep it so that their child is able to come home every day to a mother and father like they’ve been taught is best for them. Trying to make sure that their son can play catch with dad every once in awhile – even though he may treat mom like shit; or that their daughter’s able to go shopping with mom every now and then – even though she may spend half her nights with another dude.
They’re trying to protect them – from the reality that their family is no family at all.
And so they convince themselves that this imperfect situation is the best one.
At least, better than the alternative.
Better than divorce. Better than lawyers and lawsuits. Better than shuffling the kids between two places, two parents, two homes.
And so despite it all, they tell themselves: “We’ll stay together for the sake of the children.”
Even though they don’t want it. Even though they don’t like it.
But is it right?
These parents certainly think they’re doing the right thing.
And if they could live together in some kinda loveless harmony or whatever maybe they’d be right. If they could maintain their kid’s way of life without hurting it. If they could simply co-exist at all with their spouse without being at each other’s throats every day for every thing.
But they can’t.
Or else they wouldn’t be considering divorce at all.
Because though there is a definite benefit to the child in having both parents, two incomes, and the certain stability those afford, and though there are things they’re given under those circumstances that they might otherwise be deprived of by their parents splitting, it isn’t everything.
Cause there’s an emotional cost to divorce. But there’s an emotional cost to doing nothing as well.
There’s legit pain experienced by the child that’s forced to endure their parent’s split – that’s forced to watch their parents divide the life they called their own, and the inevitable vindictiveness and cruelty they show each other as their lives are torn apart and rebuilt.
But…there’s an emotional cost to them staying together as well – to the child that’s forced to hide in their room as their parents yell, and scream, and fight; to the child that’s witness to their father’s violence, or indifference, or cheating, or their mother’s temper, or spitefulness, or cruelty.
Or vice versa. Or whatever may be the cause of their parent’s problems.
There’s damage done that isn’t so easily undone. There’s scarring inflicted that isn’t so easily healed.
All because their parents thought they were doing what was best for them – though it turned out to be far, far worse.
But the truth is…
Not every family is stronger collectively. Not every family’s sum is greater than its parts. Not every family is better off together.
And while many remain together for all the right reasons, and many split for all the most logical reasons, there exists a great many that remain together for all the wrong reasons.
But a child is not reason enough to stay together when that child is the only reason.
Cause a broken family is far better than a broken home.
Cause one parent struggling to make a life for their child is far better than two doing all they can to ruin everyone’s.
Cause far better it is for a kid to be without their mother or their father for a time, than to be saddled with two who can do no more than argue, yell, blame, and hurt; who make every night at home a hell from which the kid cannot save themselves, a prison from which they cannot escape.
But too many hold on too long. Too many play the martyr to no one’s benefit. Too many stay with their spouse for no other reason than that the person they hate is also the mother or father of their child.
All because they think they’re doing what’s best for the kid. All because they’ve been told, like we’ve all been told, that a complete family is a better family; that having both parents is better than having only one.
But the hope of a traditional family isn’t more valuable than a healthy family – whatever form that family may take.
And the economic and aesthetic benefits of a two-parent home, don’t outweigh the emotional costs and wounds of that home, when the parents hold no love, or care, or respect for one another.
Because the kids notice it.
The kids feel it.
The kids learn it.
And the damage done when kids are forced to hide in their rooms as their parents yell and scream, slam and break, isn’t worth an Xbox on Christmas, or new clothes now and then. It isn’t worth the scars they’ll bear for life, or the pain they’ll shoulder till their death.
Parents think they can endure their prison to protect their child. But all they do by doing so – by staying, by remaining, by holding on to a long dead relationsip – is lock their child in their prison as well.
And prison’s no place for a kid…
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