Should a couple with children be allowed to divorce in general just because it is convenient for them? Most people do not realize how a divorce affects the lives, mental stability, and emotional stability of a child. It is devastating to watch your childhood vanish in a puff of smoke. Things will never be the same for that child and their childhood will be depleted. Is it right to willingly put an innocent child through a divorce, knowing that it is most likely going to give that child emotional and mental issues for the rest of their lives? Marriage is a bond that two people enter together. They become married by vowing that they will last unto death. This sometimes is not the case and if a person believes that they can not last forever, then that couple should refrain from having children. They should also think very hard before entering in to that marriage and commitment. It is not fair to the child or children to have the rug pulled out from under their feet. I do believe that there are a few cases in which a divorce may be necessary. These cases are few and involve threats to the children’s safety. In these sorts of cases, it is my belief that the parents should make sure that they are doing their very best for the children involved.
Judith Wallerstein noted in a controversial study that children of divorce are much more likely to be troubled as adults. She also states that couples with children should try their hardest to work things out and stay together. Some people disagree, saying that some bad marriages can be worse than just divorcing (Children). There is some logic behind this rebuttal, but, being a child of a divorced couple myself, this is not the way to think about it. My parents may have fought when they were married, but after the divorce, things got much worse. Not only has the fighting gotten worse, but they now talk about each other to my siblings and me. This is devastating for my siblings and I, because we would rather see our parents in the best light, just like any child would. I would say it is not in the best interest of us children to hear all the bad talk about the other parent.
The children of many divorced couples may have trouble developing successful, lasting relationships. Judith Wallerstein, the author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, says that children watch their parents’ relationship and carry that as a model into their adult years, as they begin to have serious relationships. Children with divorced parents do not know how to look for love, intimacy or commitment, because they never saw these things in their parents’ marriage. Nearly forty-five percent of American children will see their parents split up before they reach the age of eight-teen. This is a devastating statistic that continues to rise (Children). There are many studies that show that there is a correlation between divorce and children that are struggling emotionally, socially, and even academically. Parents should think long and hard about these things before they decide to continue with a divorce (Children). Researchers at Kent State University in Ohio discovered that children of divorce did not perform nearly as well on standardized English and math tests as the children of intact families did. They also found that children of intact families were far less likely to repeat a grade than the children of divorced families (Children). Wallerstein studied children whose parents had been divorced for ten years and found that only thirty-four percent of those children were doing all right. Almost thirty-seven percent were still depressed and could not concentrate in school. They had behavioral issues and had a hard time making friends (Jost). There are parents that are constantly fighting in front of their children. They do not get along and fight about everything. People say that this is a reason for the parents to divorce, because it is unhealthy emotionally and mentally for the children. It is true, it is unhealthy for children to see this, but it is important for parents not to argue in front of their children. Whether the marriage is a healthy one or not, arguing in front of children is wrong and unhealthy.
Some say that divorce is, in most cases, a better option than trying to make a very stressful marriage work (Children). In some cases, this may be true, but in my own personal experience, divorce is never the best option. There are many couples throughout the world that have quite frankly hit rock bottom, but worked hard to fix their marriage and resolved their issues. Mark and Betty Squier saved their marriage, even after Betty found that Mark had been having an affair. After going through a ministry program at their Roman Catholic Church, they found that their marriage could be saved. They say it did not happen right then and there, it took a few years to fix things, but they did save their marriage. If their marriage could be saved after an affair, then there are many other marriages that could surely be saved (Clark).
Custody agreements are also another thing that will cause children their great emotional and mental distress. Joint custody allows for the child to go back and forth between both parents’s separate houses. This is good, because it gives the children a chance to see both parents equally. On the other hand, it is expensive to run two separate households and a study says that most families end up reverting to sole custody. Sole custody usually entails one parent taking care of the children full time, giving the other parent visitation rights. This is less expensive, but as Henry said, “What’s more disruptive: putting your head on a different pillow every few nights or not having one parent in your life? (Children)”
Many parents chose to use their children as a tool to fight against each other in custody battles and other such related issues. This can cause a child to believe that their parents’ divorce is their fault, if they do not think it is their fault already. Believing that you are the cause of your parents’ divorce is one of the most emotionally scarring things any child could endure. This is one of the many issues that could have been avoided if a couple had tried harder to work things out (Jost).
Many people today would tell couples with children that staying together for the sake of children is not the best diagnosis, because studies show that children exposed to conflict can be just as terrorized as children of divorce. If there is physical abuse or worse, then divorce is something that would probably be better. In any other case, divorce can have a devastating and irreversible effect on children. Divorce should be the absolute last resort for any couple that does not have a problem with abuse or other such serious incidents (Jost).
My parents’ divorce was over three years ago, and my siblings and I are still dealing with the effects. My sister has many of the same fights with her boyfriend that my mother had with my dad. She gets mad at the same things, which makes sense; because that is what she heard our parents fight about while they were separated. My brother started to have trouble in school, where he used to be an A student, he started getting C’s and D’s in his classes. I began to act out. I began smoking and staying out late, which was very unlike me. I used to be the girl who came home and studied for three or four hours and then read for fun. My sibling and I exhibited almost all of the things that the above studies say that children of divorce will most likely have to deal with.
There are a few things that can be done to lessen the negative effects that divorce has on children. The first being, parents should have a greater sensitivity to the problems that their children encounter or will encounter. Also, parents should stress open and non-judgmental communication and greater willingness to seek support or counseling from outside experts, such as family therapy. Finally, there are some that are making recommendations to help families that have experienced divorce deal with divorce specific problems, such as economic pressures.
There are only a few cases that I, and many others, believe constitute a divorce. Anyone who has a spouse that is abusive to them, or their children, has the right, and the duty, to get out of that marriage. My best friends father was an alcoholic and got physical with him on a few occasions. In his case, the divorce made his life better in many ways. Seeing a parent be abused, or being abused, causes a child many more problems than a divorce does. Getting a child out of an abusive environment by divorcing the abusive parent will give that child a better chance at a normal life. Another case that I believe could constitute divorce is drug or alcohol abuse. If the child is being put in a dangerous or illegal environment by one of their parents, it is the other parent’s duty to get that child out of that environment. There is the possibility that if drugs are found in a home, the child will get taken out of that home, even if one parent only uses the drugs. It would be better to divorce and keep the child than stay with the drug-using spouse and take the chance of getting your child taken away.
The children who have a parent that got them out of an abusive environment, or got them away from a drug-using parent, often act out less after a divorce than children whose parents split for no other reason than that they did not love each other anymore. This is because they are usually in a better environment after a divorce, and do not have to deal with emotional or physical abuse. Only those that files for divorce for the safety of their children have a valid reason for leaving their spouse. If it will better the living conditions of their child, or children, then they are just being a good parent. Good parents will do anything for the safety and well being of their children, this is why divorce should only be allowed when the parent or children’s safety is at stake.
Marriage is hard for everyone. It takes two people to make a marriage work, and not everyone is willing to work for it, but if children are brought into the relationship, the parents should be held accountable for trying to make their marriage work. Their lives come second to their children. If people decide to bring children into this world, then they need to know that they are going to have to put their differences aside to make sure that that child has the life that every child deserves. That life involves two caring parents that are willing to do anything to make sure that that child is happy.
The question you have to ask yourself now is whether or not a child’s life, emotional stability, and mental stability are worth the trade for a divorce. The negative effects of a divorce on a child are made clear here. Children did not ask to be put on this earth, parents made that decision for them, so it stands to reason that parents should make sacrifices for their children, not the other way around. By staying in the marriage, a parent is being unselfish and choosing to make the life of their child easier than it ever could have been had divorce papers been files. A child’s safety should be a parents number one concern, and unless staying in the marriage is causing that child emotional, physical, or mental harm; divorce should be the absolute last resort for unhappy parents. If children are involved in a marriage, a judge should make the couple go to couples therapy to ensure that the marriage is beyond saving. A child is a precious thing and should be treated as such.