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Why 'staying together for the kids' may be counterproductive

The phrase "we're staying together for the kids" is one that is uttered with surprising regularity in popular culture. It sometimes seems that it is impossible to pick up a book, watch a film or turn on the television without hearing that phrase.

Is the phenomena of "staying together for the kids" so ubiquitous that this is simply a reflection of the American experience? Or, is it far more likely that characters throughout popular culture embrace this option so often because real Americans feel so much pressure to do the same? If you and your spouse are struggling, it is important to understand that sometimes parents can unintentionally do more harm than good by remaining married for the sake of their children.

Studies show

When spouses share children, the pressure to stay together for their children's benefit is real. However, studies show that this option is not always the healthiest one for parents or children. In fact, study after study indicates that amicable divorces can actually be healthier for children than remaining tied to parents whose married lives are unhealthy.

Why is divorce sometimes healthier than remaining married? When children are exposed to negativity, it can affect them negatively in conscious and subconscious ways. Even when parents do their very best to keep their marital troubles hidden from their children, perceptive kids of all ages can pick up on the idea that something is wrong.

In addition, it is ultimately very important for children and teens to have role models who are healthy, happy and cultivating healthy relationships. Without this modeling, future relationship challenges and self-esteem challenges can result.

Looking forward

Only you can truly know whether divorce is the healthiest option for you and your family. It is the healthiest path for some and it is not the healthiest path for others. But as you are making your decision, please do not allow the widespread pressure to "stay together for the kids" to make your decision for you.

And should you have questions about how a potential divorce may affect your children's home life circumstances, please consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney. Speaking with an attorney does not commit you to any specific action, but it may help you to make the most informed decision possible. 

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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