Don’t stay in a relationship for the sake of the children. Before I begin this post, let me say I don’t have any children. I don’t know what goes on in parents’ minds when they make the decisions they do. This post is from the perspective of a child who will forever wear the burden of the decisions her parents made. There. Now that that’s out of the way, let me continue. Don’t stay in a relationship for the sake of the children .
I was that kid who grew up in the “traditional” home with two married parents. The thing about this traditional home was that it wasn’t as traditional as it seemed. My parents were together, yes, but they weren’t happy. I didn’t realize just how much of a big deal it was until I was about fourteen years old. I met this boy and we were talking and getting to know one another. He asked me a question that I will never forget. He asked me, “How long has your parents been married?” Before I could respond, he quickly changed his question and said, “Never mind. Here’s a better question. How long have your parents been happily married?” I was confused. I wondered, why would he ask that? I started to reflect on my parents’ relationship and I couldn’t give him an honest answer. My parents were married, but they weren’t anywhere near happy. I never paid attention to the dynamics of my parents’ relationship because I never felt like it had anything to do with me. I would soon learn that it had everything to do with my sisters and I.
One night my mother was crying, again, over my father and she said to me that if it weren’t for my sisters and I, she would leave him. My father lived in the home, but he might as well not have. She was the caretaker and provider all in one. She worked and worked in order for us to survive and every day I saw the hurt in her eyes being in a marriage by herself. When my sisters and I would question her as to why she stays, she would always say that she wanted us to be in a home with a father and mother. We wondered, but at what cost? I love my mother with every inch of my being. There aren’t enough words to describe the love I have for that woman. She is the strongest woman I know and everything she has ever done has been in the best interest of my sisters and I–even until this day. She felt like my sisters and I needed to be raised in a home with two parents. God bless her heart. Only if she knew then, the damage that decision would have on my sisters and I.
If you lived in a home where all you saw was a poor excuse of a man, then you’d understand why every day I hoped and prayed my parents divorced. So many researches have been done on the effects of divorce on children, but I would have given ANY thing (even my life, not that I didn’t try) to be from a broken home than to have actually lived in one. I know as parents you may think you are doing the children a service by keeping the family together by all means, but you’re not! For so long, I couldn’t get close to a man. For so long, I feared the thought of getting married because I equated marriage with suffrage. For so long, I thought the only way to not be taken advantaged of was to be tough all the time . I was so determined to not let a guy treat me the way my father treated my mother, sisters, and I that I was just plain MEAN. That was unhealthy. I carried such a burden. If my parents were divorced, maybe I would not have witnessed the dysfunction every day of my childhood. And maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t find myself at twenty-seven still recovering from the pain.
A few years ago, after my parents finally split up, my mother and I had the ultimate heart-to-heart. It changed my life. She was concerned about my interaction with my boyfriend at the time. She didn’t like how I seemed to be so heartless towards him, which I was. I explained to her that I just don’t trust men. I grew up in a house with a poor example. I shared that she kept my father in the house and I was able to see the horrible husband and father he was. It was in my face every day. It was not a secret. I think I would have had a better view on men if I didn’t see all the wrongs my dad did–heck, I probably would have a better relationship with my father as well. That moment, that conversation, showed my mom something she never saw before. She started to cry and apologized. She didn’t realize the effects of doing what she thought was right would have on us. She urged me to let the hurt go. She urged me to not make the same mistakes with my children. She urged me to always try to make your marriage work, but the moment it is no longer building your home, you have to do something. That moment was the moment I forgave my father.
I barely have a relationship with father. However, I no longer see him when I look at men. I no longer have this toxic hate for him. I no longer have this twisted view on love. My mom stayed because she thought my sisters and I needed to have two parents in the home. However, she realized that having two parents in a home is counterproductive to the growth of the children if it causes pain and dysfunction. I am a product of such a home. I tell you, it is not in the best interest. I still have so many issues to work through because of my childhood. I would never be an advocate of two people staying together because of the children. We see the pain. We feel the pain. We can move on and try to forget, but deep down we forever live with the pain. So again, I urge you, don’t stay in a relationship for the sake of the children.