Some parents come to an understanding about their job as parents. There may be an unspoken or discussed arrangement where they will go their separate ways after the kids are out of the house or old enough to “understand.” However, some studies find that children of a loveless, unhappy or dysfunctional marriage can be more deeply affected by the broken marriage than the divorce.
Signs of trouble
Broken marriages come in many forms. Some can be the businesslike approach, where the partnership focuses wholly on the children’s wellbeing. Perhaps they can hide the fights from the kids. Others do not manage so well, particularly if they are quarantining under one roof. Negative behavior includes:
- There may be frequent fights, heated verbal jousting, raised voices or threats of physical aggression.
- A silent treatment where the parents don’t communicate, or, worse, use the children as intermediaries.
- There are significant disagreements over the children’s care.
- No sense of chemistry that differentiates marriage from other relationships.
Sending the wrong message
It is natural for kids to look up to their parents and learn from them. Unfortunately, this can also include learning bad habits, such as misinterpreting a dysfunctional marriage as a healthy one. Parents can also get so wrapped up in the drama of their relationship that they don’t have the energy to provide necessary emotional support. This kind of adult behavior can also lead to children’s negative behavior like acting out, cause the children to have anxiety about their home life or even lower their grades.
Parents without practical interpersonal skills can also lead to other issues later in life. It can include not cultivating healthy romantic relationships, cynicism about the concept of marriage or an inability to manage their marriage.
Leading through example
Divorce can cause a certain level of trauma for the entire family. It also can be the right decision. Making hard decisions for the right reasons can also be a good behavior for modeling, and mediating the divorce can reinforce the decision. While litigation can often highlight conflict, many find mediation less stressful, faster and less expensive. It can also enable the coparents to work with an attorney to create a workable plan for the entire family to move forward healthily.