Should You Stay Together for the Kids?

Divorce has far-reaching impacts on the whole family. This unavoidable fact is further reinforced when there are children involved. The modern family may take any form, but children born into a home with two parents will have to cope with the separation of their parents.

Because of this, it’s imperative to consider the needs and future of your children when your relationship falters. Many couples decide to stick it out because they don’t want to set a bad example or create a ripple effect down the line for their children.

“Staying together for the kids” might make sense logistically, but should you actually stick in a failing relationship just because you have kids together? We want to explore the pros and cons for your family.

Pro: providing stability for your children

The biggest reason to stay together for the kids is that you will maintain the single-household environment they’ve grown used to. Most studies discuss stability as a key factor in the emotional growth of young children and even in their future relationships.

To fully realize this advantage, you have to consider what home life will look like in a failing relationship. Stability is more than just not splitting into two households but also consistent emotional support and physical presence in their lives. These two factors may still be realized in a healthy co-parenting relationship in two separate homes, as well.

Con: setting a poor example for future relationships

If you’ve reached the point of considering whether or not you should stay together for the kids, it’s likely you’ve realized your relationship with your spouse is either beyond repair or near that. You will need to be honest with yourself and each other about how the long-term health of your relationship reflects on the young minds you’re supposed to be raising together.

Are you frequently arguing with your spouse in front of your kids? Are you feeling physically and emotionally distant from your spouse? Are there secrets between you and your spouse and within the family? Our children will lean on us to set examples for what relationships should look like, so these are all factors they may absorb and take with them into future relationships.

You may think you can fake a strong relationship for your kids, but children are more perceptive than we often give them credit for and will pick up on cues we may not even realize are there. It’s best to be real and honest with them.

Pro: allowing time for forgiveness and healing

As mentioned above, our children are perceptive and will often follow our examples. If your relationship is on the brink but you and your spouse believe you can forgive each other and heal your relationship, this could be an important example for your children.

It’s important to understand divorce is final, and it shouldn’t be the first option when problems in the relationship arise. “Staying together for the kids” could actually be phrased as “working together for the kids.” Our children should always motivate us to be better for ourselves and for each other. Setting an example that we aren’t defined by our mistakes but instead can grow and learn from them can go a long way towards fostering healthy relationships in the future.

Con: it can put your life on hold

An ideal relationship is one between two individuals who push each other to be the best version of themselves. When our relationships fail, we often lose the motivation to push our partners and ourselves. When this happens, we may lose sight of individual and collaborative goals and dreams.

Forcing yourself to stay in a toxic relationship means you don’t have an ideal life companion. You may no longer have support in taking risks or chasing bigger dreams, and that could lead to your children believing life is about settling for what you have even when it’s not what you want.

When you do get a divorce and go on to chase your dreams, you’re showing your children it’s important to persist and avoid settling for less than what we deserve. Children may not initially understand the concept or reasons behind a divorce, but if they see us thrive after the relationship ends it may inspire stronger habits in the future.

At John M. Totten, P.C., Attorney at Law, we understand the complex nature of relationships. We will never push for the end of a relationship just so we can provide our family law services. We want to make sure our clients actually need us before we take on their cases. Contact our offices today if you are ready to move on and start a new life.

John M. Totten