Children Do Better With Parents Who Get It Together

Posted on | February 7, 2013 | 13 Comments

There’s a billboard just outside my town and coincidentally, I pass it every time I take J to meet up with his grandparents for his visitation weekends with his father.  It sits on the left-hand side of the road, so I only see it on my way up, never on my way back.  You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but honestly? It startles me every time.

There in big bold letters, some organization or another has purchased space to advertise one “small” thing:

“Children do better with parents together.”

The first time I saw it, I cried.

The second and third times, I tried to ignore it.

But now, it just makes me sad on so many levels.

I am, on the whole, a very fortunate divorced woman, so maybe my opinions are skewed.  I have a job that allows me the financial ability to pay most of my bills.  I have a house and a car and I can put food on my own table.  My ex-husband and I have a very cordial relationship.  Except for when he gets a little too familiar over text messaging, we get along quite well.  He pays child support on time every time.  He does the best he can for his son.  He thanks me regularly for taking good care of our child and he knows that there is nothing more important than doing what is best for J, even if that means not seeing him every day.

He’s doing the best he can to make the best out of an ugly situation.

I’m doing the best I can to make the best out of an ugly situation.

Divorce is just flat out ugly,  BUT, we’re making it work for the sake of our son.

If you’re new here,  you may think “Hey, if they get along so well, why aren’t they still married? Couldn’t she have made MARRIAGE work for the sake of her son?”

And that question goes right to the heart of when divorce is not just “an option” but your only option.  When you have children, the most important thing in the whole world is to do right by them.  You scrape and save for Christmas, you play the same games over and over, you teach and learn and read and tickle.  And you absolutely, 100% SHOULD NEVER STAY IN A MARRIAGE THAT  WILL DAMAGE YOUR CHILD.

Do you hear that, billboard people? There are times when children do better with parents NOT together.  There are times when a father can not be a father 365 days a year but he can be really good at once a month.  There are times when a mother can not mother 12 months out of the year but she does a bang up job on every other weekend and twice in the summer.  There is abuse, both mental and physical.  There is infidelity.  There is anger and hatred and words that can’t be unspoken.  There are flat out times when being apart is the best damn thing in the world for the most important damn person in the universe.

My ex and I were terrible at being married to each other. We fought a lot.  We screamed and yelled and said hurtful things to and about each other.  And luckily, we separated before J was old enough to really remember that part of our relationship. We were terrible at being married. We could not have made the marriage work and still raised a healthy child… he would have been scarred by our actions and by what our inaction meant to his future relationships. We could not have made our marriage work… not for anyone’s sake.

But we are making divorce work for us and for our child.

And that, my dear billboard people, is what really freaking matters. It’s not about staying together for the sake of your children… it’s about being the best parents you can be for the sake of your children.  If you can’t do that together, if being together is going to leave your children scarred and bruised by fists, or words, or danger, or egos… then get yourself right on out of that situation. Because nothing… and I mean NOTHING… is more important than raising physically and emotionally healthy children.

Not even marriage.

Comments

13 Responses to “Children Do Better With Parents Who Get It Together”

  1. Leah Lynch
    February 7th, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    I could not agree more. I keep seeing this quote about marriage that basically like “divorce is never an option.” Bullshit. Sometimes, it just is. You can’t be a good parent if you are not good to yourself. And sometimes, being good to yourself means leaving a bad situation.

  2. Law Momma
    February 7th, 2013 @ 8:03 am

    So very true. Had I stayed married, I’d have a scared, sad, little boy on my hands… and he would have learned to treat women the way he saw me treated… and I’m not okay with that.

  3. Leah Lynch
    February 7th, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    Once you have children, the most important thing is to show them an example of how they should be treated by others. I stayed way too long, and in the last few years, my (then) 8 year old followed me around constantly and wouldn’t even let me have a conversation with my husband in fear that we would fight. I’ve spent every day since I left him trying to make it up to her. I’m pretty sure she’s doing okay now, but there are still times I see that scared little girl. 🙁

  4. Law Momma
    February 7th, 2013 @ 8:12 am

    Ultimately, the important thing is doing what’s right… whenever you do it. Well done, you. 🙂

  5. Denise S
    February 7th, 2013 @ 7:58 am

    Completely agree with you. Staying together is not always best.

  6. Law Momma
    February 7th, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    Exactly. And doing what’s best is what REAL parents do.

  7. Roxanne Piskel
    February 7th, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

    Thank you for writing this.

  8. Alecia
    February 8th, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

    I can’t believe this is a sign? It must be sponsored by the same people that don’t believe in same sex marriage. Not helpful.

  9. Mindy Williams
    February 9th, 2013 @ 1:00 am

    Right on. My divorce, and my loving, supportive, respectful, kind and wonderful relationship I’ve been living and modeling for my sons is the best thing I’ve ever done for them.

  10. Dre
    February 10th, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    This post could not have come at at better time. I am one month away from finalizing my divorce. We have two boys, a three year old and a six year old. My ex is trying to make me feel guilty about going through with the divorce, saying I am going to ruin their lives. But he forgets that our baby would cower when he would scream and throw things, that our oldest would run to me and cover my ears when he would go on a profanity-laced rant against me. That the same sweet boy started talking to me in the exact derogatory way he would. This was all without those boys seeing the pushing, kicking, and slapping that happened. I was never going to leave until a therapist convinced me I was actually hurting the boys by staying. Thanks to the divorce (and a restraining order), we are way better coparents than ever before. I don’t want them to come from a “broken” family, but it is far better than them growing up broken themselves and repeating that cycle with their own families. Your writing has always helped me, but this post was by far the most comforting. Thank you.

  11. Q's Mom
    February 18th, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    You’re in a situation very similar to what mine was, sadly. I’m now one year out, and by far – although there are still little land-mines here & there – we are all much better for it. You’re making the right & best decision for you & your kids!

  12. Me
    February 11th, 2013 @ 10:00 am

    My husband and I have issues. There are times I think (no, I know) we would be better apart, but those times do not outnumber when things are good. I hope if the ratios turns the other way, I would have the strength/courage/whatever it takes to move on, because there is a child involved. Even now, she sees us fighting sometimes and my husband being negative towards me, and I hate that. But I think about a friend who is going through hell and back in her divorce and somehow her kids never saw her and her husband fight. They were blindsided by the whole thing. Regardless, it was right for them, and I pray for her and everyone else who is going through this, whether still married or divorced.

    Hang in there, wise one.

  13. Q's Mom
    February 18th, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    Simply put…AMEN.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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