As a former therapist I have worked with many children, whose parents went through divorce, I have also worked with children who resided with step-parents, single parents, or same sex parents. Even though unconditional love for children, acceptance, and consistency are the major factors that contribute to their successful upbringing and development, the intact families are the families where the children thrive best-providing that the parents are happily married. “Happily” is the key word. If parents have a high-discord marriage and are trying to save it only for the sake of the children, this proves to do just the opposite. It is extremely detrimental to the children’s upbringing. Through the years I was able to observe in my practice that the children often are better off when their high-discord parents divorce rather than stay together. Once their divorce is finalized, many parents are able to address parenting issues from a different angle. They are not as stressed and more able to focus on the parenting rather than on their own disagreements.
I have also noticed that the way people divorce plays a tremendous role. Many of my former clients, who mediated their divorce, have learned during the mediation how to negotiate their issues should they come up in the future. These skills prove priceless as parents apply them any time they have conflicts between themselves or with their own children-unlike couples who litigate their divorces. Those frequently continue fighting even after their divorce is finalized, as they are trapped in their own issues. E. Mavis Heatherington, Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia who published the results of a 20-year study of divorced families, once said: “The only childhood stress greater than two married parents fighting all the time, is two divorced parents fighting all the time.”