Staying Together for the Children (and why I think it’s dumb)
“We’re staying together for the children.”
I’m sure I’ll ruffle a few feathers here, but I have a pretty strong opinion about this and lately I’ve been crossing paths with a lot of men and women in this very position.
I can understand the good intentions and I can also understand a parent’s desire to place their children’s needs ahead of their own, naturally. And all my respect to the parents who want to set a good example for their children and provide them a stable, loving home.
But is it?
I know a lot of unhappily married folks – as I am sure we all do. Married couples that are no longer in love, yet they go through the daily motions simply because that’s ‘the only choice’.
But it boggles my mind every time I hear it.
“For the children.”
Society tells us that we have to have two parents and live under the same roof to be considered a ‘family’. Most parents think if they actually care about their own happiness as well, their children will grow up to be scorned for life. Some children are also taught that if they don’t have a mommy and a daddy that live together – they aren’t normal.
I think it’s completely ridiculous.
Some parents are pretty darn good at disguising unhappiness. But kids aren’t stupid. They can detect tension. They can detect unhappiness. And even if the parents aren’t fighting, they know when something isn’t right.
I know, I was one of them.
It says it’s okay to be unhappy. It’s okay to not value yourself enough to find your true happiness. It’s okay to settle. It’s okay to live in perpetual misery.
One might argue that it teaches ‘commitment’ – but why does commitment have to be confined to four walls and a roof?
And given that we tell children, “you deserve to be happy”, isn’t that kind of hypocritical?
Should we not then, be leading by example?
In my opinion, what we should really be teaching our children is that a true family doesn’t depend on marital status.
A ‘family’ will be committed to each other and love each other just the same no matter how many roofs they live under.
THAT is family.
My parents (whom I love more than anything) separated when I was in my twenties. Growing up though, I knew that even though they did love each other – they weren’t ‘in love’. And I can say with honesty, I have never once felt any less loved because we weren’t contained under the same roof.
And yes, most parents ‘stick it out’ until the children are older, have the ability to understand, won’t be effected ‘as much’. Understandable, but as an adult now seeking to find my own happiness – I can’t help but feel my own sense of guilt. Perhaps had they not ‘stayed together for the children’, they would have had many more opportunities to find their true happiness a long time ago.
Looking back, had I been a child – I would have got through it. Personally, I don’t think a short time of discomfort should be set aside in exchange for years of unhappiness. Life is too short, but that’s just me.
Now, I don’t believe divorce should be an easy solution either, and obviously comes with it’s own negatives. But, in the long run… just as parents want their children to be happy – children want their parents to be happy.
Unhappy parents = unhappy children.
If we want our children to focus on their happiness as they grow older, we have to do the same. The happier you are – the more love you have to give. And what’s wrong with that?
If it’s handled with maturity and dignity – separating for the children can be the best thing ever.