April 27

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.

What does staying together for the children really say?

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┬áhypocritical?

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.

Unconditional love.

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.


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Posted April 27 by miss_t in category "In Real Life", "Perspective", "Single Life", "Uncategorized

About the Author

Hi. I'm Tanis. Most people refer to me as "T". I am a writer. I tell real life stories with a spiritual and sarcastic twist. I guarantee to either make you laugh, make you think, or put you to sleep. I like wine, art, laughter, travel and words. Authenticity is my aim. Proper punctuation is not.

9 COMMENTS :

  1. By Rebecca on

    While I agree with you on many points, and when people aren’t parents they tend to forget that there are often many factors for staying together, most times bundled into the one excuse.

    It is not only ‘for the kids’..it is often ‘for the parents’. Raising children is expensive. Raising children in 2 separate homes is even more expensive..and complicated. Lots of people just can’t afford to live apart..and it also takes a lot of time, patience, frustration to raise children separately, but together. For many, it is easier just to stick it out.

    Another thing…is comfort. Most people plan children with the thought that they will be together ‘forever’. Most times, there is a lot of time invested in the relationship…time that a lot of people don’t want to throw away, especially when they’ve made the decision to bring children into the world. And as you know, lots of people would rather be in a relationship than be alone. (Crazy people)

    Being a parent, there are tons of sacrifices people make. Sometimes, happiness is one of them. I myself, broke up from my kids’ dad when they were less than 2yrs old. It wasn’t rainbows and unicorns. It wasn’t fun. I had to move back home with my mom. I had to work in a job that I hated, because of the hours supported the daycare I used. Differing parenting styles caused many frustrations and tears. Not knowing what my kids were allowed to do when they were with their dad sometimes worried me. I am glad my relationship with my ex ended when it did…but I was far from happy. I was stressed. I was alone. I was worried that I was doing the right things. I didn’t have time to date, to be with friends. It wasn’t until I was much older and my kids older that I was happy.

    But..that’s my story. It’s probably different than others. I try not to question people’s decisions to why they do things. Just have to trust that they feel they are doing what’s right for them and theirs.

    Reply
    1. By miss_t (Post author) on

      Completely agree – every situation is different. In general terms though, it bothers me that society places an emphasis on family being ‘under one roof’, and if you’re not – you’re dysfunctional. There are some that won’t entertain other options because of that view. There are sacrifices in having children, marriage, single life, etc – and sacrifices to find happiness… but I don’t believe personal happiness should be sacrificed because ‘it’s not easy’.

      Most will take the path of least resistance – which is right for some. Sometimes others do what is uncomfortable and find where they need to be. You’re a prime example :)

      Reply
  2. By Lanamarana (@lanamarana) on

    The first night I slept alone in a bed at my parent’s place because I too had to move back home with my kids….I cried for my kids. Not for me and that I was alone, but for my kids and what our divorce would do to them. There are days when I think about how things would be if we stayed together….and realize being apart is truly the best thing. I tell my children that people marry with the intention of staying together, but sometimes these things just don’t work out. It’s sad, but it’s true. Thank you for posting this…..you make some incredible points. I tell my children that families come in all different forms, it doesn’t matter if mom and dad live under the same roof, we are still a family, we are still normal. My children are alright. They are happy, healthy and loved. I used to look at the “typical” families when we went on outings and wish that I had that, I felt broken. I used to compare myself to others, but then I realized what they looked like to the public was just a snapshot of their life. I don’t know what happens in their home or their lives. I don’t compare myself anymore, I’m clearly on a different journey. And we are still a family.

    Yes, it’s expensive to have 2 seperate households, but it would have been just as expensive if not more if had stayed together. Long story best not shared with the world. And yes, I was far from happy for a long time, but I’m getting there. I’m showing my children that you don’t have to settle for what makes you miserable. There are alternatives. I would rather be alone and happy than be with someone and be completely miserable. Because really, are we alone? We have friends and family who love us and accept us no matter what. Sure, it would be nice to have someone to share our wonderful world with, but it’s not the be all and end all.

    Reply
  3. By Lanamarana (@lanamarana) on

    I also think that our generation is on the cusp of a major change regarding families. Even if some of us persue a relationship again….we aren’t chasing a ring, we might have a relationship where each person maintains their own residence for whatever reason. I have plenty of examples of couples living in a “non traditional” co-existence and they are perfectly happy. I want to know why we all have to fit into one mould. We should do whatever makes us happy.

    Reply
    1. By miss_t (Post author) on

      Yes! I agree… that’s in fact how I see my future relationship. I need my space! Actually the topic of my next article…

      Reply
  4. By ralfcis on

    Rebecca has a very similar story to mine and miss_t I’m not sure you proposed an answer to the problem. My ex-wife is currently involved in a long loveless 2nd marriage and stays because of the financial and child issues. Luckily for me, she let me off the hook and divorced me after 6 years. I think the first step to unhappiness is being under the impression that one deserves to be happy. I think happiness is a talent. No one deserves to be beautiful or intelligent or athletic. Even if they’re lucky to have a talent, it’s still hard work.

    Why is marriage called “settling down”? I think in a lot of cases “settle” is the operative word. It breaks down when people don’t want to settle. If you treat it like a business partnership between two strangers, it has a better chance of working out. This is an opposite answer to the utopian dreamscape answer found in romance novels but I don’t have any other practical solution except maybe raising children in village-like communes. Don’t know; life unfolds as it does.

    Reply
    1. By miss_t (Post author) on

      There is no one answer. What I am saying is that, financial stresses and each relationships individual complications aside – several (not all) do not entertain other options, because of the societal belief that they absolutely have to ‘stay together for the kids’. That is not always true. Nor is it the healthiest. But many believe it’s the ‘right’ thing to do.

      Being beautiful or intelligent or athletic, as you said, requires hard work. It often requires stepping out of the norm and making sacrifices, and doing that which is uncomfortable. Sometimes, so does happiness.

      I don’t know either… I’m still single haha!

      Reply
  5. By Lanamarana (@lanamarana) on

    Clearly I have tons to say on the topic. My ex husband said to me that he felt he was ruining my life by staying married to me. He felt that he should let me go so I could be happy. He has severe depression, another long story. He did me a huge favour. I lost myself in my marriage, and now I’m on my way back to being the person I was, or well, we all change, so who I want to be.

    For your next article: Married couples who don’t share a bed (and shockingly…still happily married).

    Reply
  6. By ralfcis on

    I think the best things in life like love, wealth, happiness are not achieved by direct pursuit but are byproducts of __? The answer for wealth is fairly easy: passion and persistence. Maybe it applies to all. I’m not one of these spiritual, buddhist, “The Secret” type people but I do believe in a law of attraction. Instead of directly pursuing and possibly scaring away the important things in life, it may be easier to have those things pursue you by making yourself attractive to those things.Hold on, was there a movie about this? The Zen of something? Oh no, I’m really not in any way a buddhist.

    Reply

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