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Should We Stay Together for the Sake of the Children?


By: Janice Dantes


Even though I am a divorce lawyer, I want people to stay married. I truly believe that divorce is a last resort. I never discourage parties from reconciling. I have had clients who have fi led for divorce and later reconcile. However, if the parties have made every effort to save their marriage and believe that their marriage is irretrievably broken, I do not believe that they should feel pressure to stay together because they have children.

Staying together for the sake of the children is not necessarily better for the children. I have seen incredibly toxic marriages where children are exposed to violence and abuse. I have also seen divorced couples who were able to create a fantastic co-parenting relationship, which did not exist when they were married.

Also, I think parents should understand that divorcing when your children are adults is not less painful for the children. It is merely different. First, adult children can comprehend the reasons for the demise of their parents’ marriage and can pass judgment. Second, adult children question if their entire childhood was a sham. Lastly, divorce for adult children may impact more people because their children may have spouses and children of their own.

My personal view is to get out of a marriage as soon as you believe that it is no longer fixable. When people stay together for the sake of the children, I believe they teach their children terrible lessons:

1. It’s ok to lie. People in unhappy marriages staying together for the sake of the children teach their children that lying is an acceptable form of coping. It teaches children to suppress their true feelings because being open and honest is considered bad. Children learn that the best way to address a problem is to pretend it does not exist.

2. It’s ok to be mistreated. Many people in unhappy marriages are unhappy because they were not treated well. They felt unloved, disrespected, and uncared for. When you stay with someone who mistreats you, you show your children that it is ok to be treated that way. 3. It’s ok to mistreat others. On the other side of the coin, children learn that it’s ok to mistreat others. I have dealt with cases involving domestic violence, infidelity, and addiction issues where excuses are made for bad behavior.

4. Confl ict is always bad. Children also learn that being honest about feelings at the expense disturbing the peace is bad. They learn to avoid conflict at all costs in order to keep the peace. Conflict is not always bad. I encourage couples to have difficult conversations and address hard topics in hopes of keeping conflicts contained.

5. Divorce is always bad. This is probably the most difficult cultural barrier I have in my job. There continues to be a stigma in the Filipino community that divorce is never the answer. I have seen many divorced people become better parents and better partners, both to their exes and their new partners.

If you are going through a diffi cult time in your marriage, please contact me at (312) 546-5077 or janice@pinaylaw.com. Thank you for reading. Until we meet again, love one another.

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