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If you’re considering splitting up with your spouse, you don’t necessarily have to feel guilty — at least when it comes to your kids.
Or so says actress Anna Kendrick. In the new issue of Fashion magazine, the Into the Woods actress opened up about her parents’ split when she was 15. “They taught me that staying together for the kids is the wrong approach,” she told the magazine. “It perpetuates this warped idea of what a healthy relationship looks like.”
And free yourself from the thought that your home will be “broken” once you and your spouse sign the divorce papers. “I hate when people think you’re broken because your parents are divorced,” Kendrick told Elle earlier this year. “I really reject the idea of staying together for the kids. If they’re growing up in a house that’s not healthy, it’s better to know that’s not the model of what marriage should be.”
Kendrick is exactly right, says Barbara Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Connecticut. “The term ‘broken home’ is dated,” she says. “The measure of brokenness or damage isn’t based on whether the parents are still married but what’s going on in the home.”
Heather Logrippo thinks her 8-year-old son has benefitted from her divorce. “Not only does my son smile more, but his behavior has improved since my husband walked out on us,” says Logrippo who was married for almost 12 years. “While some of this can be attributed to maturation, I believe my son was picking up on our tension and unhappiness. Since his father walked out, I’ve maintained a very happy environment. I’m in a much better place and I think my son feels that.”
Kids will thrive after your divorce if you make it clear to them that the divorce isn’t their fault and if you don’t use them as pawns. “You never want to force your kids to prove their allegiance to you or your spouse, suggests Jeanette Raymond, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Los Angeles. “You also want to make sure that your kids don’t feel like they have to pretend your spouse doesn’t exist when they’re with you and vice versa.”
Here, three things Greenberg believes parents who are considering parting ways should keep in mind:
1: Happy parent, happy child.
“Kids do so much better in a harmonious household,” Greenberg says. “If a parent is happy and at peace because he or she is divorced, the child is in much better hands and will thrive versus being raised in an environment of constant emotional volatility.”
2: Staying together for the kids is foolish.
“Couples who say they’re staying together for their kids are probably afraid of splitting apart for other reasons, including fear of starting over, financial worries, etc.,” she says.
3: Your kids won’t necessarily need a shrink when they’re older.
“The research is mixed on whether children of divorce will have relationship issues,” Greenberg says. “The point is that this doesn’t matter. Relationships are the trickiest part of life. Most of us can handle our jobs better than our relationships and your divorce doesn’t necessarily mean that your kids won’t be able to forge quality long-term relationships later in life.”