It may be the toughest decision you ever have to make: Should you and your spouse keep your marriage intact for the sake of your children? Answering that question can be an agonizing process, especially when considering that what's best for you as adults may not be what's best for your kids.
BabyZone spoke with family and divorce experts across the country who have helped thousands of parents in troubled marriages chart the best possible courses for their families' futures.
Is Divorce Bad for the Kids?
The prevailing view in our society is that divorce sentences children to a lifetime of unhappiness, and that two separate households cannot be as nurturing and supportive as one. "I think we have a very difficult time in this society to be able to say that divorce does not destroy families but changes them," explains Constance Ahrons, author of We're Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents' Divorce and a twice-divorced mother of two grown daughters.
Ahrons and E. Mavis Hetherington, two leading family researchers, conducted studies which found that a majority of children of divorce—more than 75 percent—turned out just fine and went on to lead happy, productive lives as adults. The initial stresses of divorce did not prevent them from enjoying professional and personal success.
In what is regarded as the most comprehensive research on divorce, Hetherington studied nearly 1,400 families over three decades. A PhD and professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia, she discusses the results of her work in the book, For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered, and writes that much of the current literature on divorce "has exaggerated its negative effects and ignored its sometimes considerable positive effects." She concludes that, "Divorce is not a form of developmental predestination. Children, like adults, take many different routes out of divorce; some lead to unhappiness, others to a rewarding and fulfilling life."