Raising happy children during a divorce almost seems a contradictory statement. I mean, how could you possibly raise “happy” childen during a divorce?! After all they are now from a “broken home”? I stayed in my marriage far too long for two main reasons. One was financial as I was working part time as a podiatrist and so I was reliant on my husband and the other was for my children. I believed my children were happy in a home where both parents were together rather than from a broken home. I had grown up with Ladybird books and “Happy ever after!!!’ So to me, the last thing I ever wanted to do was sp;it my family up. I was prepared to sacrifice my own happiness to keep my family together becasue I believed in my infinite wisdom that this was the right thing to do.
But what was I teaching my children about healthy relationships? That once you were married, you stayed married, regardless of whether you are happy or not?! Would I want my daughter in a marriage where she was desperately alone and unhappy purely to keep a family together? Absolutely not! Life is precious and life is short and we all deserve to live a life of happiness and fulfillment. Intuitively, of course we would like our children to be raised in a happy environment with both parents present, however numerous studies have now shown that this is not what children need.
Research shows that 80% of children adapt well following a divorce with no lasting effects on their grades at school, their social adjustment or mental health. Children thrive when they have good relationships with both parents BUT this not need be with parents living in the same house. Children will benefit from emotionally stable parents focusing on parenting them and looking after their own emotional health as an individual. Children will watch their parents for signs of stability as they will often mirror the parents emotions, especially at a young age and this impacts their mental health which makes it vitally important for parents to take their own mental health seriously and look to heal and recover themselves following a divorce as this will have a positive impact on the children.
Marriage is not what matters with a childs emotional wellbeing but a loving relationship with each parent that are not engaged in conflict. Co-parenting is obviously the ideal scenario during divorce, however in some cases where abuse or personality disorders such a snarcissistic personality disorder are present, parallel parenting can be a positve alternative for the person who has been abused. Children want happy parents and this does not matter whether that is in marriage or separately.
Children of divorced parents are often more independent with a greater understanding that life can throw curveballs, but you can pick yourself back up and move forward with resilience and this is a great life lesson to be learnt. As parents, we often feel guilty that are children are somehow going to have a “lesser” childhood becasue mum an ddad are no longer married but all the studies show this is absolutely not the case if both parents focus on firstly themselves and then doing what is right for the children.
It is important to not put your children in the middle of your divorce but at the heart and centre. Children are resilient and are very much guided by you. Studies show that high conflict between parents can be one of the most damaging elements to children. Now, I know this can be really hard sometimes if you have an ex partner that seems to want to continue having conflict BUT it takes two to engage in conflict, so you taking steps to remove yourself from conflict is vitally important for the emotional wellbeing of not just yourself but your children.
Children benefit from stability, we can focus on establishing new routines that work in our newly structured lives and childen will soon adapt. Not being in a marriage that was not working allows you to focus on yourself and healing so you can be a better parent and a happier individual. I am a big believer that divorce can be a catalyst for a complete redesign and as long as one parent is fully focused on what is right for the children and refuses to engage in conflict, the childen will be balanced, resilient and happy. I certainly knwo that eventhough my divorce was extrememly acrimonious and high conflict, my children are happy, well balanced and doing amazingly well at school and in social settings and relationships.
Was it hard, Yes! Have I cried, Yes! Did I feel guilty, Absolutely! But are my children now happier with two happy separate parents? 100% yes! They have parents that vare divorced but they have learnt that in life, events can happen and even be sad but you teach them the tools to deal with these emotions which they can then put in their own toolkit to use for the rest of their lives. Children can have a host of positive experiences in their childhood that rae all totally unrelated as to whether their parents are together or not. If we are on our own with our children, we can fully focus on ourselces and being the best positive parent we can.
Parents need to stop the blame game and look at the effects of their anger at their ex partner is having on their children. If you are angry at your ex because maybe they cheated, that is completely different to their relationship with the other parent. As a parent, you need to be mindful of your underhand comments and remarks about the other parent will have becasue by doing this all you are doing is putting unnecessary pressure on your children because children want both parents to be happy. Do not deny your ex partner a positive relationship with their children because all the studies show that this is encourages children to thrive and flourish. Obviously if there any safeguarding issues, this is a separate issue.
In simple terms, children can be absolutely be happy from divorced parents and this is absolutely down to you as the parent. The biggest gift you can give your childen is to focus on you, focus on them and avoid conflict. Happy parents, whether together or separate are the basis to raise happy children. Don’t let your anger destroy your childrens relationship with the other parent. Your children need not be lifelong victims simply because their parents got a divorce as this is all within our control with the choices we make. So stop feeling guilty that your children have divorced parents because their happiness is in your hands and need have zero to do with whether you are married or not.
If you are not in my private Divorce & Breakup Supoort Group for Women on Facebook, pleasae come and join thousands of women lifting, inspiring and supoorting one another with a dose of divorce coaching from myself.
Your friend and coach