By Lisa L. Derr
Divorce isn’t the worst thing that can happen to children. Yet, we are still bombarded with outdated myths which are obstacles for people considering divorce. Here are four long-lasting but outdated myths.
1. Parents should stay married for the sake of the kids. We know that actions speak louder than words. Sadly, staying in an unhealthy marriage only teaches children how to be unhappily married. Dr. Constance Ahrons wrote “The Good Divorce” where she researched the collective thoughts and opinions of thousands of young adults who had been children of divorce.
- 76% of the adult children did not wish their parents were still together
- 79% felt their parents’ decision to divorce was good
- 79% feel that their parents are better off today
78% feel that they are either better off or not affected. Interestingly, the majority of these children didn’t regret their parents’ decision to divorce and even felt that they were better off or not affected.
2. Adult children of divorce are doomed to have lifelong problems. This is no longer an absolute. Studies have shown that the number one factor that affects adult children is not whether they are from a “broken home.” It is the level of conflict between parents – married or divorced. Children whose parents had high conflict had significantly greater problems that those who did not whether they were married or not.
3. Divorce means you are no longer a family. The most narrow definition of a family is parents and children living in the same household. But being a “family” is more than that. While children won’t be able to live together with their parents, there are many situations where they can work, play and celebrate together as a family. Parents can share some holidays and their children’s birthdays together. They can share the same rules, privileges, bedtimes and books. They can resolve issues, discipline and give rewards together.
4. Divorce leaves children without fathers. Fathers are integral to their children’s lives. When I started practicing law in the 1980′s, fathers only had placement of their children every other weekend. (Really involved dads got Thursday through Sunday.) Thankfully, the law in Wisconsin has changed to maximize the time that children spend with both parents.
So, divorce can be a healthy solution. Once parents have decided to divorce, they have a number of options from which to choose including alternative dispute resolutions such as mediation.