By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Stay together for the sake of the kids? Generations of miserable parents followed that advice hoping their sacrifices would pay off for their children in the end. Many still believe that’s the only option for parents stuck in a dead-end marriage.
As a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, I have another perspective. Having been raised by parents who chose to stay together in a miserable marriage, I personally opted in on the divorce side. For me, divorce is preferable to years of living in a home where parents fight, disrespect one another and children are immersed in sadness and anger. That’s the world I grew up in and the scars are still with me today, many decades later!
I stress that staying in a marriage only for the kids is a physical choice. However, it doesn’t touch upon the emotional and psychological pain children endure when their parents are a couple in name only. There is no positive role model for how marriage can and should be.
Happiness, harmony, cooperation, respect and joy are all absent when parents are emotionally divorced while still living together. Children feel it, are confused by it, often blame themselves, are guilt-ridden and experience little peace in childhood. The scars are much the same as for those who endure a poorly handled divorce.
Choosing a Child-Centered Divorce supports the entire family!
From my perspective there is another option for parents in these circumstances. They can consciously choose to create a Child-Centered Divorce which provides a much better outcome for everyone in the family.
My parents should have divorced early in their marriage. They were both miserable together an, had little respect for each other. Worse still, they raised two children in a home fraught with anger, tension, frequent loud arguments and conflicting opinions.
I remember my mother asking me one day whether she should divorce Dad. “No,” I cried. I wanted a Mom and a Dad like the other kids. Although my childhood was miserable and filled with insecurity, I feared what life would be like if my parents were divorced. Mom didn’t have the courage to do it anyway — those were vastly different times, especially for women. So she continued in her unhappy marriage for decades longer. And Dad was as unhappy as she was.
Today, looking back, I feel that was an unfortunate mistake. Neither of my parents were bad people. They were both just totally mismatched. Their communication skills were miserably lacking and they were wrapped up in winning every battle at all costs. Ultimately the real cost was the happiness of their children. I believe both of my parents would have been better off and more fulfilled had they parted ways and remained single or chosen another mate.
Creating a positive co-parenting relationship!
That’s why I ultimately chose the other route when my own marriage was failing.
Because of my childhood experiences, however, I intuitively understood what not to do in divorce. I consciously created what I call a Child-Centered Divorce. I focused on co-parenting with my former husband, sharing custody and maintaining a positive relationship with my ex for the decades that followed. Most gratifying for me is the satisfaction of having my now adult son acknowledge the merits of my philosophy and choices.
More than a decade after my divorce, I wrote what became an acclaimed digital guidebook for parents. It’s based on my own personal experience with divorce when my son was eleven. As an adult he wrote the Foreword to How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children — With Love! He is a strong supporter of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and my programs. (www.childcentereddivorce.com)
Putting the children’s wellbeing first!
I still believe in marriage and have since remarried myself. If parents have the maturity and determination to get professional assistance and renew their commitment to marriage without divorcing, that is undeniably ideal. I believe the entire family will benefit and the healing will be a blessing.
However, if children are being raised in a war zone or in the silence and apathy of a dead marriage, divorce may open the door to a healthier, happier future for all concerned. But only – and this is the key point – only if the parents consciously work on creating a harmonious, cooperative Child-Centered Divorce. And that means putting the children’s wellbeing first – before they make other decisions!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids About The Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children — With Love! To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, her coaching services, expert interviews, programs, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: https://www.childcentereddivorce.com