Could divorce actually be a positive experience for anyone, especially a child?
Surprisingly, the end of a marriage may come as a relief to the children involved or represent the beginning of a more positive chapter in their lives.
Many adults can point to numerous benefits of severing ties with a spouse; but, children may not be privy to all of the details of their parent’s conflicts or possess the developmental capacity to comprehend what things like infidelity, financial woes, drifting apart, domestic abuse, and so on are, nor the impact these have on the people in the relationship.
Whether a divorce is primarily a positive event, feelings of confusion, sadness, anger, and so on are still bound to exist; but, you may find that the reason to divorce outweighs the reasons not to – even for your kids!
These are 4 reasons divorce might actually benefit your child:
1. Most children are exposed to less conflict after divorce
Divorce is not a magic solution to forever erase all of the arguments and negativity that existed in a failed marriage, but it offers an opportunity to minimize those problems so that the former partners can go on with their lives in separate directions – isn’t this why most people decide to divorce?
Some conflicts are bound to continue because parties still have to interact to discuss child-related issues. If the adults involved remain focused on co-parenting and the needs of the children and follow the orders of the court, then reasons for conflict should be significantly decreased. The divorce will narrow the field of conflict topics to only what is shared by the individuals because other items will no longer be of one another’s business or concern.
Just the fact that the parents no longer have to reside together and share in every daily decision means that they can likely be in better overall spirits and not be as irritable and prone to argue as before. Of course, children do not need to be around arguing and dysfunction, so the more time they can spend in peaceful environments and not have to bear witness to their parents arguing, the healthier it is for the kids.
A teenager I spoke with confided to me that in a class assignment where he was asked to categorize life events as either positive or negative, he identified his parents’ divorce as a positive event. He recalled many volatile fights between his parents when he was younger and how these events frightened and upset him. He noted that his parents now have far fewer arguments to the level that they used to, so he is more at peace in his life.
2. You’re a better parent after divorce
My decision to divorce was fueled by years of unhappiness that contributed to my depression and general dissatisfaction with life. I was more impatient, moody, easily fatigued, and had difficulty giving my children the energy they deserved. Although I struggled with the idea of ending my marriage and thrusting my children into a situation where they would no longer have both parents under one roof, I suspected that I would be a happier person and parent in my own home without their father, which could make me a stronger and better parent.
I was correct. I was not the best version of myself while married to their father, and also not the best mother I could be because of my unhappiness. My children now have the opportunity to be parented by two people who are no longer bogged down by fighting and frustration who can fully focus on them.
3. A parent can model better relationships
While with my ex, my children did not have the opportunity to see positive interactions between adult partners. They did not see how married people should treat one another with affection and respect; therefore, they were going to grow up not having a healthy concept of what a marriage should be, and I feared they could carry these misconceptions into their own future relationships.
I am now re-married, and my kids and bonus kids are finally able to see modeling of how parental figures should communicate, work together, solve conflicts, cherish one another, and everything else that is beautiful about marriage. I am hopeful that by seeing a healthy adult relationship they are able to learn how to participate in one and recognize the differences between a healthy and damaging relationship. I want my children to experience loving, happy relationships, so divorce served to make it possible for them to be a part of one.
4. A parent can model strength and how to take care of business
Aside from divorce leading the way for my children to finally see what a healthy relationship looks like, they also get a front row seat to see their parent modeling strength and overcoming adversity. During the unhappy days of my marriage to their dad, I demonstrated defeat, how to be a doormat, and what it looks like when an individual no longer cares about themselves.
What kind of life lesson is that for a child to absorb into their being?
I wanted my children to witness that if a situation in life is hopeless, one need not simply roll over and die. I am careful not to let them think that marriage is disposable because it is something that should be prized and worked hard for! What I do want them to understand is that we all make mistakes, and when we do we should forgive and ask for forgiveness. I want them to know that when we fall down, we need to get back up, keep trying, and conquer our fears. I especially do not want my daughter to believe she needs to accept poor treatment from a partner.
I was not in an abusive relationship, but her father was distant to me and put forth minimal effort to help keep our marriage alive. I want her to value herself and believe in herself, and I want her to first stand on her own rather than feel that she needs a man to make her whole or take care of her.
Becoming a single parent was a challenge for me because I had only myself to rely on; but, my children witnessed me march forward through many tough times without surrendering to doubt or fear. After my divorce, they saw me finish my master’s degree, figure out how to handle any imaginable daily issue by myself, and seek happiness. I hope that my children are proud of me; but, most of all, I want them have confidence in what they can do and to feel deserving of their own happiness!