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Home / Divorce Center

Does having divorced parents affect my marriage?

 Her parents divorced when she was a child and she seemingly has repeated the pattern (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

My parents divorced when I was a child, and sadly I seem to have repeated the pattern. Because all through my marriage, my husband and I had a tempestuous relationship, and recently we split.

So I find myself wondering whether my parent’s divorce was a factor in the failure of my own marriage.

And whether there’s any way I can prevent the same thing happening to my children.

Do you have any advice?

Recently Split Up

——

Hi Recently Split Up!

Children are greatly affected by divorce. Most want their parents to stay together, and experience anxiety, anger, shock or disbelief. Some start having behavioural issues.

Problems like these usually disappear after a year or two after which they start to develop normally again. But some of the children of divorced parents don’t fully recover, and go on to do worse at school, have difficulty finding work, have more accidents and health problems, and smoke and drink more.

Children who grow up apart from their fathers also tend to have more difficulty forming relationships. They often start sex earlier, have less successful marriages, and divorce more.

Fortunately, there’s lots you can do which will protect your children from these possibilities.

Because, for example, endless fighting and custody battles are very bad for them. So even though you probably don’t like one another much, do your best to co-operate with your ex.

Many children feel the divorce was their fault, so make sure they know that it wasn’t. Avoid discussing your relationship issues with them, blaming your ex, or ‘giving them your side of the story.’

Your children need to spend time with their father, so make sure they know how to reach him whenever they want. And help them to maintain contact with his wider family.

Encourage them to feel they have a home with you both, regardless of how much time is spent in either house, and keep their routine as much the same as possible. Children are happier when they know what to expect.

Talk to them lots, and give them plenty of love and attention. And discipline. Closely monitor their activities and don’t become either overly permissive or excessively strict.

No lavish gifts or getting away with things they wouldn’t otherwise. Children feel more secure with consistent rules, and when they know that the adults are in charge.

It’s all very hard work, but it’s worth it. Because with lots of support, the chances are that your children will bounce back and do just fine. Solid, businesslike co-parenting can overcome almost any difficulties, so put aside your differences with your ex and all will be well.

All the best,

Chris.

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