10 Things That Happen When Parents Decide to Stay Together “for the Kids”
Even the strongest marriage can fall apart: 1 in 4 couples is likely to end up getting divorced, according to statistics. But things can get pretty complicated if the partners have a child. So they have to decide whether staying together for the sake of the children is really the best option or if it’s better to move on with their lives.
Bright Side has come up with the consequences of sacrificing your happiness for the children and some of them are pretty alarming.
1. Children learn to settle for “good enough”.
A child sees an example of parents who can’t remove themselves from a stressful situation and are stuck in old patterns of behavior. So they learn that it’s too difficult to lead a happy life and it’s more secure to settle for less. Fighting for the things that make you happy seems like a useless and dangerous task that could only bring disappointment.
Parents should teach their child that we only live once and that they should make the most out of it despite all the difficulties. Life isn’t an easy ride, but that doesn’t mean that we should settle.
2. Children can get scared of the future.
Even if parents fight in private, children will notice that something is off anyway and may become afraid of the future. They don’t know that it can become a trigger that will make their parents split up. They also might be worried that they’ll have to make the decision of who they will have to stay with. So they may suffer from a lack of initiative and be afraid to do anything that may cause a family breakdown.
Communication is the key to the emotional stability of the child. Parents should explain to the child what’s going on and prove that they’ll do anything to keep them happy.
3. Children may suffer from overprotective and controlling behavior.
When marriage is centered around the children, parents can easily forget about their own lives. They may start to manipulate their children or be too controlling since they gave up their own happiness for them and subconsciously want to get something in return.
While some parents are able to easily let go of their children, others may struggle with detachment issues that can become more serious as the child grows up and doesn’t need them as much as they used to.
4. Children don’t feel secure or cared for.
Children can feel the resentment and uncertainty of their parents, so they might feel like they’re sitting on a time bomb that could explode at any moment. They don’t feel like their parents can protect them from any danger and aren’t sure that their parents will always be on their side.
The primary responsibility of any parent is to shelter their child from any problems they’re too young to solve and make them sure that they’ll face all their life changes together.
5. Children suffer from stress and health problems.
According to this study, children who live in a hostile environment, even if the conflict between the parents isn’t so apparent, are likely to suffer from health issues and problems with social development. Psychologists suggest that this stress can cause hormone imbalance, increased heart rate, sleep disorders, and some psychological problems, like depression.
Even if the parents don’t drag the child into the conflict, it won’t improve the situation: children can feel the tension anyway and will suffer the consequences.
6. Children don’t see a good relationship model.
Many families pass their attitude toward relationships from generation to generation. When children grow up, it may be difficult for them to build strong and healthy relationships if they’ve been told from early childhood that “the family needs to be saved no matter what.” They feel like their opinion and emotions aren’t important enough and they have to make sacrifices to achieve a higher purpose. So they follow imposed standards and don’t value their happiness.
Remember, that children look at their parents and learn the basics of love and emotional connection that will help them navigate through their love life as adults.
7. Children may feel guilty.
When parents decide to stay together, the children may feel like it’s their fault that the parents are unhappy and that they’re the reason for all the family problems. They are extremely sensitive to arguments and are likely to take the blame. This can result in lower self-esteem, problems with sleep, and even self-harm issues.
Parents should explain that their feelings toward each other don’t affect their love for their child and their personal issues have nothing to do with them.
8. Children don’t learn how to resolve conflicts.
Children mirror the behavior of their parents. If parents stay in a conflict for far too long, instead of resolving it somehow, children may project this behavior in their future lives. Children learn that keeping silent or just expressing your emotions, but not solving the problems, are acceptable patterns of behavior and may suffer from communication issues.
Parents should set a good example to help children understand that all relationships have their ups and downs, but it’s essential to find a compromise and make sure all the partners are satisfied with the decision.
9. Children don’t feel like they can control their life.
Parents usually don’t ask their children what’s good for them or let them make decisions on their own. So the child can feel a hidden resentment and tension, but they have no idea what they can do to make the situation any better. It can negatively influence their self-esteem and ability to make decisions in the future.
Of course, there’s no need to let your child know all about your personal problems, but it’s better to let them feel like their opinion counts when it comes to family matters.
10. Children suffer from poor parenting methods.
Parenting is hard enough just the way it is. But it’s almost impossible to pay enough attention to a child, when parents are under constant pressure trying to save their marriage or living with a spouse they’re no longer in love with. Co-parenting with a partner can be easier if the spouses are no longer together and have time to work on their own lives.
Leading a happy life provides parents with enough inner resources to be engaged in their child’s upbringing and doesn’t make them feel like they’re sacrificing their own happiness for the sake of their child.
Have you ever had to make a decision about staying with your partner for your kids? How did it work out? Feel free to share your personal experience in the comments.
Illustrated by Anastasiya Pavlova for BrightSide.me