Staying married for the kids? Alison Maloni decided not to do that and wrote about it. Here is her guest post, which offers her perspective on why it doesn’t make sense to stay in an unhappy married for the children.
A Message to Parents Who Stay Married for the Children by Alison Maloni
I recently wrote an article about my divorce. I was panicking about the response that I would receive, as I know that some people were in shock and others disappointed in my recent life-changing event.
What really overwhelmed me was the feedback that I received. My inbox was flooded with messages from people across the country who have gone through divorce, those who are going through it and some who are contemplating it.
After that, I felt compelled to continue to write about this journey. I call it a journey, because divorce doesn’t end when you go to court. When you have children, it’s a continual process.
A topic that continues to come up when I talk about divorce is the children. Separating and/or a divorce is very hard on a family. But on the flip side, raising children in a negative environment is far worse.
I’ll begin with what someone recently said to me. The person told me that “I was being very selfish and that I clearly did not work hard enough at my marriage.” They called me a quitter and that I was not putting my children first. They continued to say that I should “suck it up” until the children are out of school and THEN I can get divorced.
Well, here’s how I feel about that.
I know that people stay in unhappy marriages for many reasons. The fear of being alone, lack of money or a job to support themselves. If they are a parent, they stay in a miserable marriage for their children. For some reason they think that it is a good idea to stay unhappy and sometimes unloved so their children will have a “normal” life.
For those who haven’t kissed their husbands or wives in months or are happier when they are not in the house, you are NOT doing your children a favor. You are NOT living a normal life and neither are your children.
I’m here to say that your children know that you are unhappy. They see that you don’t put your hand on your husband or wife’s shoulder, they hear you talking to your friends and they see that you don’t laugh anymore. They may even hear you fight. They sense the tension and it DOES affect them.
Please explain to me why staying together is better for your children? I know people who have slept in separate beds until they felt their children were “old enough” to understand what divorce meant.
First, children are much smarter than we think and they can handle it. Secondly, how much time are people wasting in a bad marriage? Third, you are showing your children that this type marriage is normal.
Remember, they learn by watching us. We are their role models.
Our children should see love. They should see their parents laugh together. They should see a happy mother and father. That is what our children should experience.
If you ask any therapist they will tell you that the worst thing parents can do is stay in an unhappy marriage for their children. But, we see people do this time and time again.
Children of divorced parents live very normal and fulfilling lives. Research shows that 80% of children of divorced parents adapt very well. It’s up to you as a parent to make sure they get the help they need and have open communication with them.
For those going through a divorce or contemplating it just know that you will get through it and it will be okay. It will be extremely stressful and even when you think that “you got this” it will get harder.
But please know that the children will be okay. They will be stronger and better off than if they stay in a household with negativity and sadness.
My children now see a happy mother. A vibrant mother. A mother who is proud of who she is. A much more patient mother. And hopefully they see a strong mother.
Not everyone will agree with this. But, at the end of the day, I have come to realize that you can’t make everyone happy. And if anything, this journey has made me strong enough to not let those things bother me.
Instead of worrying what people think, I focus on my three beautiful daughters, my career and my future filled with love.
Alison Maloni is a media expert, owner of Alison May Public Relations and a speaker. But most importantly, she is a mother of three beautiful daughters. The former journalist helps companies get their stories told through media exposure. She is a lover of chocolate, wine and barre classes.