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In the past, most children were born and raised by married parents, even if the relationship wasn’t stable. However, now that separation and divorce have become socially acceptable, the way children are raised has become more varied. When parents separate, it can be a crucial point in their child’s life as it alters their life’s trajectory. It can affect them both in a positive or negative way.

Separation and divorce can be something positive for the child, especially if they lived in an unhealthy household. It is better for the child to have a healthier childhood in a loving home with a single parent rather than to stay in a toxic home with both parents. It especially helps the child to have a more positive outlook if both parents work together to make the separation as smooth as possible for their children. This will lead the children to better adjust to their new situation. When parents choose to separate, it’s important for them to be caring, supportive and loving towards their children so they can cope in a healthy way.

Despite this, children can still be affected negatively. When their parents’ divorce, they go through a range of emotions, unable to understand exactly what they’re feeling. They go from feeling sadness, anger, anxiety and even frustration that they can’t do anything about their situation.

Along with these emotions, separation can also affect their own viewpoints on marriage and relationships. This is due to the fact that most adults, who were raised by separated parents during their childhood, tend to have a more negative view on marriage. They expect themselves not to marry and instead opt to live in a happy cohabiting relationship. This could well be why, according to the Eurostat, 42% of births in 2018 were outside of marriage. They see no point in going through the whole wedding and marriage thing if it will then end in divorce.

Besides feeling hesitant to be married, there is also the issue of trust within the relationship for children of divorced parents. This is because having their parents separated leads their children, as they reach adulthood, to find it harder to trust their significant other. In fact, a study carried out by Daniel J Weigel, found that adults, whose parents had separated, were more likely to believe that infidelity was inevitable. Thus, this led them to experience an absence of trust in relationships. While, those whose parents remained happily married had no thoughts of these.

As can be seen, separation can impact both childhood and adulthood. It completely changes an individual’s outlook on how they imagined their future would be; married with kids in a happy home. Despite these worries, I want to emphasise that it is possible to move on and have a healthy positive marriage even if your parents didn’t. You are not alone in facing these worries of what the future of your relationship holds, but it is up to you and your partner to decide how you want to spend your life together.

Mandy is a Gestalt psychotherapist who enjoys working therapeutically with adults on various issues. These include general mental health and wellbeing. She also has experience working with anxiety, victims of domestic violence and eating disorders.

References:
Daniel J. Weigel. (2007). “Parental Divorce and the Types of Commitment-Related Messages People Gain from Their Families of Origin,” Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 47:23.

Eurostat. (2020). 42% of births in the EU are outside marriage. Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/DDN-20200717-1.