Divorce Does Not Ruin Children, But Parents’ Behavior Does

(Note: a friend gently chided me for the phrase above “Ruin Children”. She did not like the idea of a “ruined” child. Does a cruel remark or emotionally cruel behavior actually “ruin” a child? If isolated, probably not. And children can certainly overcome adversity. But if “ruin” means raise to adulthood a person who is impaired in entering adult relationships, incapable of trust, and likely to live an unhappy life because of unhappy relationships, the answer is, sad to say, yes. So, if you see this happening, in person, or even in your Facebook community, I suggest a private message to the actor reminding him, or her, of the hurt the behavior can cause. J.B.H. 2-9-2012)

I was referred to a book several years ago by our Family Court Judge.

It is “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, A Twenty Five Year Landmark Study”, 2001, by Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee.

Its point, supposedly supported by 25 years of study and statistics, and exemplified by seemingly endless anecdotal case studies, is very simple, but important, and, from my experience, true.

These three groups of people are statistically nearly identical in the happiness and stability of their adult relationships:

1. People raised in happy, stable, marriages;
2. People raised in unhappy, but non-abusive, stable, marriages; and
3. People whose parents divorced before they were six and went on to form long term, stable relationships.

All three groups grow up learning to have faith in the stability of relationships.

The group that did not do well is made up of people whose parents, after divorce, entered into numerous failed relationships. Those are the ones who taught their children not to believe in “true love”, not to trust, and to expect, at least subconsciously, the relationships to fail. No doubt, they also were exposed to different moral standards and influences than people raised in stable families.

Think of that before you leave your unhappy marriage and start bouncing from partner to partner. It does not just hurt you; it scars your children for life.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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