Effects of divorce on children needed

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Shantishanti

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Effects of divorce on children needed
« on: December 16, 2016, 03:54:38 PM »
Hi all,
I'm considering the impacts of a divorce from my uBPDh either soon or in a few years. My kids range from 3-10 now and the last three years have been really rough for us all. My husband started getting a lot more unstable when he started a master's degree and I started developing/growing out of codependency and wanting my own personality and life. It's only gotten worse over those years, with mild success over the last month or two, but overall it's still not working and with realizations of some of his patterns and infidelity concerns, as well as what I might need to heal from the trauma of this relationship, I'm considering divorce. I've been convincing myself to stay because of ideas that the kids will be better off with an intact family, but I want the real deal... I don't want that to be a misguided decision. Any help finding information about the beneficial and detrimental impacts of divorce on kids at different ages would be helpful, as well as info on what living arrangements are best for different ages. I'm concerned about having to share custody and leave the little ones with him, but he's not dangerous or dysfunctional enough to keep them away from him for safety reasons, so I'm wondering what I'd need to consider there too.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 03:56:14 PM by Shantishanti »

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Liftedfog

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2016, 05:57:35 PM »
I too didn't want my family broken.  But the truth is that it was already "broken".  Just because you are living under one roof, doesn't mean it is not broken.
Kids need one stable home and one stable parent.   This is what I provide for them now.   it is a very personal decision and a lot of factors to consider.  But when children are involved it is always better IMO to remove them from the chaos and conflicted home rather than try to shelter them in the chaos.  It doesn't always work.  Children hear and see everything.   Make the decision that is right for your kids.   
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snoflinga

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2016, 06:23:55 PM »
Are you looking for research or personal stories?

My kids were 6 and 9 when we divorced (or when he first moved out and we started the process) and I was so, so worried about how it would effect them. I had stayed in an awful marriage for years because I didn't want that for my kids. They had special needs and I thought the upheaval would be too much for them. But since BPDxh left, here's what has happened to my children:

FIRST WEEK
* The youngest stopped having violent meltdowns and became more verbal
* Instead of tears and screaming every morning before school, they walked out the door with a hug and a kiss
* An unbelievable lightness and calmness filled our house for the first time in ages. The kids commented on it.

WITHIN SIX MONTHS
* The kids started inviting friends over to play for the first time ever. Our oldest had her first sleepover.
* Both of them used to stutter. Their stutters went away.
* The youngest, who had been in danger of failing second grade, began to turn in homework and pass tests
* The oldest, who used to pick at her skin until it bled, stopped having nervous tics like this

WITHIN ONE YEAR
* Both kids were discharged from speech services, which they had been in since preschool. Their speech is perfect today with no hint of the way they used to stutter or speech delays
* Our oldest was moved out of special ed and into a regular classroom (she was diagnosed ADHD when BPDxh lived with us, her symptoms are gone now)
* The youngest stopped wetting the bed and biting her nails
* The oldest's phobias, which had been tough to handle, evaporated
* Both kids started coming home with straight As

WITHIN TWO YEARS
* Both kids have gone from being loners at school to being part of solid, engaged friend groups. They have friends over almost every day
* Both kids have been placed in the gifted/talented or advanced classes at school. They went from special ed to gifted within two years!
* They are SO incredibly confident and happy. It's like night and day.

Today they are involved in sports, the drama club, volunteering. This very morning my oldest brought a sack of gifts to school for a class gift exchange she and her friends organized. Their bedrooms are covered with posters and pictures of their friends. They run the book fair and sell lemonade and win sporting trophies. Kids in the neighborhood come over and stay for dinner. They've had a lot of therapy, but the change has been overwhelmingly positive.

I have trouble looking back at photos of them from the time their dad lived here. They are so often crying, and you can see the fear and grief in their eyes. They are unrecognizable. I had no idea, NO idea, when we all lived together just how much his moodiness and outbursts were hurting the kids. On bad days I get down on myself for letting it go on so long and not acting sooner to protect them from his PD, but I try to remember I did the best I could.

I can't say my experience is true for all families where a parent has a PD, but I regret that I wasted so many years thinking divorce was the worst thing that could happen to us. It was easily the BEST thing to ever happen to me and my children. We are working on rebuilding their relationship with their dad and even that is going well.

I also have a parent with a PD, my mom is NPD. My parents are still married, but I wonder sometimes about how much healthier and kinder our childhood would have been if my dad had been strong enough to leave her. I doubt I would have married BPDxh if I had a normal childhood, you know?

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Whiteheron

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2016, 08:09:09 PM »
snowflinga,
can i ask if the kids have visitation with their dad? if so, how often? and are they generally ok with it? this is my biggest fear, and one that's kept me rooted in a dysfunctional marriage for so long.
it sounds like your kids have come a long way, it's great to hear!
thanks
wh
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Ellie307

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2016, 08:11:55 PM »
As a child of divorce, my parents break up came as no surprise to me and my siblings. We ranged in age from 8 to 12 and none of us can  remember a time when we weren't witnesses to the screaming, crying, and verbal abuse between my parents. I suspect my dad has NPD, and was ruthless with my mother and us kids. We were happy when he left. He barely made any attempts to see us, and when he did, it was forced and pathetic. We felt like we were bothering him or always in the way. Their split was a good thing for us.
Everyone's situation is different. IMO, children would rather be in a single parent home that is calm and stable than in an environment that creates constant anxiety. We felt like we were walking on eggshells every day. My brothers (two oldest) still deal with the ramifications of having an NPD father.
Hope this helps. Best wishes for a peaceful, successful outcome for you and your kids. :bigwink:
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snoflinga

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2016, 09:09:36 PM »
snowflinga,
can i ask if the kids have visitation with their dad? if so, how often? and are they generally ok with it? this is my biggest fear, and one that's kept me rooted in a dysfunctional marriage for so long.
it sounds like your kids have come a long way, it's great to hear!
thanks
wh

It has been a gradual process. At first they had no contact, and that was good. Then we started really small, like he would take them out to dinner for just a couple of hours at a time a few times a month. Maybe 18 months into the divorce he started taking them for a full day , like Saturday morning to Saturday night, twice a month. Today we are almost four years out and he has them every other weekend plus one week long vacation every year.

I feel like the limited contact was very good for him. I don't know if this will make sense, but it was almost like he would just run out of resources when he lived with us. He would have a long day or the kids would be especially noisy and he'd just very quickly spiral into screaming and raging (and hitting, towards the end.) When he had short visits with them, it was like he could gear up for it and manage to stay calm and reasonable for that set amount of time. It helped him stretch his coping skills and gave the kids some positive experiences with him, so it was good for everyone.

Today they enjoy seeing him and are confident around him. It took a while, and if I am honest at first that stung (inside I was yelling, don't you remember what he did to us??? when they hugged him.) But I realize this is the best thing for them, and if they are happy and secure that is a good thing.

I wish you all the best, I know it's a difficult decision to make that leap.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2016, 09:25:12 PM »
Hi, Shanti Shanti.

There are so many variables and so much depends upon the temperament of each child.

In terms of research,  I found the literature handed out by our government services painful to read and useless in the face of dealing with a pd. It all assumes you're dealing with rational, logical, empathetic people.  Pds don't fit that rosy picture.

You've already received some replies here and I'm sure there will be more.

But you have to work out what helps/applies in your situation. A therapist,  I think, would help you with that.

Sometimes we get it wrong, often we second guess our decisions.  Unfortunately there are no clear cut answers.

All the best with your decisions.

AOD

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Liftedfog

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2016, 11:07:58 PM »
I found the literate useless to.  All of it was useless.  The encouraging to meditate, reconciliation, etc.  I wanted to scream it's not possible with a disordered person.   :aaauuugh:

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TooLongInWA

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2016, 04:41:32 PM »
Several years ago a friend of mine, who counsels married people dealing with a cheating spouse and is well versed in mental illness due to a family member of hers that was mentally ill, told me that the research shows kids are better off if the parents get divorced if it is a high conflict household.  I didn't listen to her and am only now in the early stages of filing.  In the intervening years I've seen how my kids have been negatively affected by all the yelling and hollering in the house.  It's affected me as well.  I yell too much. It's something I'm working on.  I'm trying not to beat myself up about how long I stayed in the marriage.  For years I told myself that if I broke things off he would never get better. I was concerned he would commit suicide.  It's something he has threatened in the past.  Now I'm dealing with kids who have witnessed so much verbal and mental abuse of their mom by their dad.  Who have watched their dad sit like a bump on a log for years.  He quit his job when my son was about 2 1/2.  He's now 9.  My kids have no idea what it's like to have parents who actually co-parent.  I do almost all the cooking, cleaning, yard work, shopping, running to appointments, making appointments, arranging play dates, planning the birthday parties, etc.  That plus I work full time. I've been the only income all those years.  What kind of an example have I set for the kids by putting up with this BS for so long?  I've got kids who don't help around the house much, who hate doing homework (my husband never thought it was important and didn't help or enforce it), etc.  We're all in counseling.  The kids need routines and discipline and I'm hoping its not too little, too late for that.  It's hard.  But I'm trying.   :thumbup:
"Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too."    Will Smith

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Livingoneggshells

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2016, 06:08:15 PM »
Are you looking for research or personal stories?

My kids were 6 and 9 when we divorced (or when he first moved out and we started the process) and I was so, so worried about how it would effect them. I had stayed in an awful marriage for years because I didn't want that for my kids. They had special needs and I thought the upheaval would be too much for them. But since BPDxh left, here's what has happened to my children:

FIRST WEEK
* The youngest stopped having violent meltdowns and became more verbal
* Instead of tears and screaming every morning before school, they walked out the door with a hug and a kiss
* An unbelievable lightness and calmness filled our house for the first time in ages. The kids commented on it.

WITHIN SIX MONTHS
* The kids started inviting friends over to play for the first time ever. Our oldest had her first sleepover.
* Both of them used to stutter. Their stutters went away.
* The youngest, who had been in danger of failing second grade, began to turn in homework and pass tests
* The oldest, who used to pick at her skin until it bled, stopped having nervous tics like this

WITHIN ONE YEAR
* Both kids were discharged from speech services, which they had been in since preschool. Their speech is perfect today with no hint of the way they used to stutter or speech delays
* Our oldest was moved out of special ed and into a regular classroom (she was diagnosed ADHD when BPDxh lived with us, her symptoms are gone now)
* The youngest stopped wetting the bed and biting her nails
* The oldest's phobias, which had been tough to handle, evaporated
* Both kids started coming home with straight As

WITHIN TWO YEARS
* Both kids have gone from being loners at school to being part of solid, engaged friend groups. They have friends over almost every day
* Both kids have been placed in the gifted/talented or advanced classes at school. They went from special ed to gifted within two years!
* They are SO incredibly confident and happy. It's like night and day.

Today they are involved in sports, the drama club, volunteering. This very morning my oldest brought a sack of gifts to school for a class gift exchange she and her friends organized. Their bedrooms are covered with posters and pictures of their friends. They run the book fair and sell lemonade and win sporting trophies. Kids in the neighborhood come over and stay for dinner. They've had a lot of therapy, but the change has been overwhelmingly positive.

I have trouble looking back at photos of them from the time their dad lived here. They are so often crying, and you can see the fear and grief in their eyes. They are unrecognizable. I had no idea, NO idea, when we all lived together just how much his moodiness and outbursts were hurting the kids. On bad days I get down on myself for letting it go on so long and not acting sooner to protect them from his PD, but I try to remember I did the best I could.

I can't say my experience is true for all families where a parent has a PD, but I regret that I wasted so many years thinking divorce was the worst thing that could happen to us. It was easily the BEST thing to ever happen to me and my children. We are working on rebuilding their relationship with their dad and even that is going well.

I also have a parent with a PD, my mom is NPD. My parents are still married, but I wonder sometimes about how much healthier and kinder our childhood would have been if my dad had been strong enough to leave her. I doubt I would have married BPDxh if I had a normal childhood, you know?

Such an amazing change, this is exactly what im hoping will happen for my children, eldest has a lot of pent up rage, she is a very angry girl, and she has some debilitating phobias. Youngest has bowel problems and messes herself frequently, shes 8, ive been suspecting their problems have a lot to do with all the conflict they witness, thankyou for sharing this, youve given me a lot of hope.

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LeeJane

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2016, 07:19:58 PM »
When my parents parted I was 12. It was a great relief to myself and my younger siblings. Our home was an insane battle ground.

They should have parted many years before they actually did.

There was peace for a while but then they resumed their war from a distance using us kids to get at each other with.


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Downbutnotout

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2016, 08:44:52 PM »
I've posted my experience on the non pd dad forum section so won't repeat it all here but my experience is a resolute yes that it is better for the children to have a stable, peaceful and relaxing environment in at least one household as a result of a divorce rather than a volitile, angry and unsettling war zone when it is thought that it is better to stay for the sake of the children.  I have seen my boys blossom since the divorce.  Good luck.

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Latchkey

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2016, 12:09:16 AM »
I'm both a child of divorce and have been divorced with kids. My kids are doing very well and living in peace in a stable home with me.

I know in most cases, for the safety of the children, a hasty unplanned exit is not the answer. Neither is a long planned but secret one if the kids are not given any notice.

I also know that when your kids have serious special needs, when you have to work nights, or when you have little monetary or financial support, divorce is not always an option right now just for the sheer difficulty of caring for the children when they are young.

However, as far as I can tell from my experience and my kids experience and most kids I know today-- they all are doing better as long as they have one stable parent and a loving home to go to.

Here are some links that might help you too:

Put Children First

Talking to Kids
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Poised

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2016, 02:13:41 PM »
Dear Shantishanti -
I wrestled (and still wrestle) with the question you raised: is divorce or staying married to a PD better for the kids? Prior to making the decision to move out with my kids (one preschool, one early elementary), I spent a lot of time on this forum reading the co-parenting, divorce, and children of PD forums for firsthand accounts. I also took advantage of counseling through my company's EAP program and focused my sessions on two issues: 1) was I overreacting to my husband's behavior, which he insisted was normal and/or something that only I triggered due to my many shortcomings as a human being, and 2) what was in the best interest of my children.

On the second question, the counselor referred me to the ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study. It's a long-term study conducted by the CDC and Kaiser that has followed 17,000 patients since the mid-1990s. A top-line conclusion of the study is that divorce is less traumatizing to children than growing up in a household where there are high levels of conflict and/or abuse.

The caveat, of course, is that this study necessarily compares apples to oranges, or one family or another. There are no studies that will definitively state whether staying or going is better for YOUR family, and, if you're like me, you always may wonder about the path not taken.

That said, there have been tough days and some tears from my older son, but I still believe leaving was the right decision for my family. At several months out, with my husband in denial and dragging his feet on every aspect of the legal process, I can't report the same dramatic progress as snoflinga, but I've seen real improvement in both children.

My son was diagnosed in kindergarten with anxiety and possible autism due to preservative speech. Inattention in class was noted as a tertiary concern. He also spent a great deal of time in the principal's office after calling his teachers the names he heard at home. This year, he has not been sent to the office once and the main concern identified is inattention - the anxiety and speech tics have virtually disappeared. As his pediatrician has noted, ADHD in little boys is fairly common and treatable; clinical anxiety is not. There is no formal custody arrangement in place (see foot-dragging, as noted above 😕), but he spends half the time with his dad, alternating weeknights and weekends. I had the kids for Thanksgiving, which had previously been a tense and miserable weekend. My son said - more than once - that this was "the best Thanksgiving ever!"

My daughter was diagnosed with special needs (Down Syndrome) at birth, so her speech delays and use of diapers as a 3-year-old perhaps were to be expected. She also NEVER slept through the night. Now, she's speaking in clear sentences of three to five words, counts to 20, sings songs, and uses a diaper only at night. She also sleeps through the night. I have her almost all the time, since her dad is unable/unwilling to care for her; however, I no longer have to tolerate his incessant critiques of my parenting. (I read stories too quickly, speak too quickly, use pet names instead of her real name, etc., etc.)

Last week, my husband starting working up to one of his rants in front of the kids, claiming that I had ruined Christmas and destroyed the  family. He also threatened that our son wouldn't be six forever and when he grew up, he would make sure that DS knew I was to blame for the divorce, because I'm selfish and my family is "white trash." I told him that he needed to leave; my sweet little son then told his dad exactly where to he wanted him to go - hell 😈! Of course, I reprimanded his language and told him he should be kind and respectful to others. Unlike last year, when I would have been an utter hypocrite and crying mess because I did nothing about my husband's unkindness and disrespect towards me, I also calmly showed my husband the door. Then the kids and I went back to playing and had a lovely weekend.

I think your question is THE question for those of us who have shared children with a PD partner. I've personally found the other responses to your post very helpful and encouraging and hope that mine also contributes even a little bit to your decision. Wishing all the best to you and your family!

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Whiteheron

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2016, 03:07:04 PM »
Last week, my husband starting working up to one of his rants in front of the kids, claiming that I had ruined Christmas and destroyed the  family. He also threatened that our son wouldn't be six forever and when he grew up, he would make sure that DS knew I was to blame for the divorce, because I'm selfish and my family is "white trash." I told him that he needed to leave; my sweet little son then told his dad exactly where to he wanted him to go - hell 😈! Of course, I reprimanded his language and told him he should be kind and respectful to others. Unlike last year, when I would have been an utter hypocrite and crying mess because I did nothing about my husband's unkindness and disrespect towards me, I also calmly showed my husband the door. Then the kids and I went back to playing and had a lovely weekend.

I think your question is THE question for those of us who have shared children with a PD partner. I've personally found the other responses to your post very helpful and encouraging and hope that mine also contributes even a little bit to your decision. Wishing all the best to you and your family!

Yay for your son! I usually don't like to hear about kids swearing and disrespecting their parents, but in this case, I completely understand.

snowflinga,
thanks for being so open about your situation, I really appreciate it. I'm still trying to come to terms with everything and trying to gather as much information as I can so I'm not blindsided when the time comes.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

Being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok.

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lifeline

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2016, 03:32:56 PM »
Thank you all, another really good question, another set of very informative posts.
I also worry, I have nothing to add, but a great big thanks to all.
"Only I can change my life.  No one can do it for me."
-Carol Burnette

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2016, 04:52:15 PM »
In terms of making the transition as easy as possible for the children (and for yourself), information and preparation equal power.

If you have a plan and if you have as much info (legal, financial etc.) the less stressed you will be. And therefore the children won't be as stressed.

Also, be prepared for your spouse's behaviour to become worse, at least for a while, if you do choose to leave.

AOD

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Shantishanti

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2016, 05:50:33 PM »
Thank you for all the response. It's all very helpful. I often feel like my perspective is so skewed by dysfunction that it's hard to see what things are supposed to be like. I will spend more time reading in the forums. It seems to help my reality meter when I do that. He's been better with me lately but chews out the kids for random kid things, doesn't carry his weight, hasn't worked in over a year, and I do the vast majority of housework. After finding or  was spending time in Tinder looking for women, I'm heavily considering  sanity and resolve, trying to  what I've possibly been ignoring, including what's best for the kids. I've been telling myself I was staying for the kids, but if that's misguided, I should leave. I appreciate the stories.

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Livingoneggshells

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2016, 06:37:08 PM »
Shantishanti, i was telling myself i was staying for the kids too till a couple ofnweekks ago when they asked me if we could kick dad out  :wacko: didnt know what to say

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snoflinga

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Re: Effects of divorce on children needed
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2016, 11:45:32 PM »
I'm sorry you're in this position, especially around the holidays. Sending strength and peace to you and your kids.