If you realize that you’re unhappy in your marriage, you may wonder if it’s better to stay together for the sake of the kids and keep the family unit intact. After all, research shows that children fare best if they grow up in a happily married family.
But should parents stay together for the children? Not necessarily.
In fact, kids do better after separation from a high-conflict marriage. It is better for children to have two happy parents who lead separate lives compared to being exposed to conflict, sadness, and emotional distance in their family.
The following are several reasons why it is not a good idea to stay together for the kids:
- Your children will be unhappy because you’re unhappy – Children are more aware of their surroundings than we give them credit for, as if we somehow forgotten what it was like growing up around our parents. No matter how hard you may attempt to hide your sorrow, your kids will know that you’re not happy. If there is a heightened pattern of conflict or disconnection, this can serve as a poor model of a healthy relationship and cause stress to children, thus damaging their social and emotional development.
- You may risk neglecting your children – Kids may also be at risk of being neglected because their parents may be embroiled in their own problems. Not only can the neglect be physical (i.e. being so upset that the parents may avoid parenting duties), but then can be emotional (i.e. avoiding to go to important events because the other parent might be there) as well.
- Your children will learn how to love and raise a family from their parents – When children grow up, they often model the type of marriage their parents have. This means that they will eventually accept the same or similar types of situations, and have the same or similar outlooks on life. Additionally, they will pick up parenting skills that they will use on the next generation.
So when it comes to staying together for kids, it is important to consider the health of the family unit. Is the family unit healthy if the parents stay together? Is the family unit healthy if they are apart?