One aspect preventing parents from taking action or addressing conflict is the presence of their children. There would be an added worry about how a drastic decision might affect the children (which differs from if the parents were childless).
The question that needs to be asked is whether staying together as a dysfunctional couple will be more beneficial for the kids opposing separation.
You may say, people can stay together and still be good caretakers without being functional partners. As long as the unhealthy dynamic is preserved, there is no room for other aspects influencing the family to grow.
Is divorce truly destroying children?
This mainly concerns couples certain about ending their relationship, with the child being their only hold-back. Most of the time in dysfunctional families, divorce is not the only problem, rather there would be other issues. Kids in this type of family dynamic are not only affected by the divorce but also other existing problems creating a dysfunctional and overwhelming environment.
Your Child’s Education
Another important and interesting fact is that when there is a high probability of divorce, children are quite ready for it to happen. One of the areas that parents are mainly worried about is the kid’s education. However, in families with a likelihood of separation, divorce will not affect the child’s education. An explanation is that due to circumstances and predictions, the child would be ready for it. Furthermore, in some situations, conflicts arising from partners staying together would be the same as getting a divorce.
However, when the divorce was not expected and was sudden, there will be negative consequences for children, including educational ones.
Children growing up in dysfunctional families will try to adapt to the situation by developing one of the following roles in the family (Al Ubaidi, B, A. 2017) :
· The Good Child (also known as the ‘Hero’/’Peacekeepers’ role)
They try their best to be the ideal child they would not create any conflict or try to reduce the existing tension through their decent behaviour.
· The Problem Child or Rebel (the ‘Deviant’ role)
The child in this role will try to distract the parents from their conflicts by creating problems and attracting attention toward him/herself.
· The ‘Scapegoat’ Role
The child is blamed for all the conflicts in the dysfunctional family. Parents compare the kid to other “good” children and make the child feel problematic and abnormal.
· The Lost Child
The inconspicuous, quiet one, whose needs are usually ignored.
· The Mascot/Charm Child
Makes use of comedy to divert attention away from the increasingly dysfunctional family system.
· The Mastermind child
Takes the opportunity in a time of conflict to get whatever they want. Most of the time there is high pressure on the kid since this message is constantly being sent to them that “we are staying in this torture only because of you” in a subtle way. This is a huge responsibility and consequently creates a sense of guilt in the long term.
Such decisions can be confusing and frustrating, so If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here
Marziyeh Salehi is working as an intern within the Willingness team. She is also pursuing her master’s in Clinical Psychosexology at Sapienza University of Rome. Marziyeh’s research interests are couples, relationships, and trauma.
Al Ubaidi BA (2017) Cost of Growing up in Dysfunctional Family. J Fam Med Dis Prev 3:059. doi.org/10.23937/2469-5793/1510059
Brand JE, Moore R, Song X, Xie Y. Parental divorce is not uniformly disruptive to children’s educational attainment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Apr 9;116(15):7266-7271. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1813049116. Epub 2019 Mar 26. PMID: 30914460; PMCID: PMC6462058.