Saturday, April 4, 2009

Children and Divorce, "It's Not About You"

For the past several decades, industrialized society has been witness to the family consisting of two working parents and let's be honest, children who are in large part raised by commercial enterprises or "daycare centers." It would seem that family priorities have been primarily focussed upon material gain and creature comforts over the nurturing of children. Of course, having mothers enter the workplace has indeed increased the outstanding credit of the system as well as the tax base to the benefit of banking and government, but at what cost to the family? Reduced parental contact with children of working mothers and fathers, or simply 'lost time,' is time never to be recovered...gone forever. Consider how preschool aged children today are voluntarily separated from their parents during an age when they are traditionally (and genetically) meant to be with family. The negative behavioural ramifications of this lack of parental contact during this highly developmental stage may lie dormant until the appearance of puberty. Unless home schooled, after the toddler stage, parents will never have the opportunity to bond with their children as much as they can at this very precious and crucial young age. It makes one wonder why the rush to stick'em all into the five day preschool week. If there be parents who need that much of a break from their children, one wonders why they would have children at all.

As an aside, at least for the purpose of providing a little background, ponder for moment the motivation for the broad and supposedly spontaneous/grass roots campaigns to get women to commit to lifelong careers even as mothers (if you took the time to dig deeper, you would find that virtually all ground shaking societal changes of the 20th century have occurred as a result of social engineering think-tanks, from the hippy movement and rock and roll to feminism). What are we to make of the queen of feminism and the women's rights movement, Gloria Steinem, admitting that her endeavours were funded by the Central Intelligence Agency? The classic novel, Brave New World was quite the predictor of things to come. Just a thought: If the feminist movement had really been about empowering women and not the result of elite think-tank social manipulation programs, Steinem's Ms. Magazine would have probably had advertizements for the best purse guns money can buy and courses in the handling of a firearm (the great equalizer) for women across the country. But back to the topic at hand.

So how exactly does placing children second or third on the parental lists of priorities have to do with the divorce in modern times? If children are not highly regarded as important enough to maximize parental contact with them, divorce in such a household, despite the negative impact upon the children as studies have shown, becomes a much easier decision to come by.

Most of us are sick of hearing politicians push their agendas for the sake of "the children," but regarding the preservation of the family....divorce is a most serious consideration when children are involved. There are certainly reasonable grounds for divorce that might vary from habitual gambling, debilitating alcoholism, physical abuse, infidelity etc.. This isn't about that. Then, there are the others like (eye-roll):

"We don't get along."

"We're just roommates now."

"He/she was mentally abusive and/or emotionally distant." or maybe a couple more which are thought about more than they are said,

"I'm bored."

"I want the feeling of lustful newness again."

Again, it's not about you (or your spouse).

All these need to be carefully weighed, considering the documented statistical consequences.

Below are excerpts of Professor David Popenoe's results of The National Marriage Project at Rutgers University:

Divorce Myth 5: Following divorce, the woman's standard of living plummets by 73 percent while that of the man's improves by 42 percent.

Fact: This dramatic inequity, one of the most widely publicized statistics from the social sciences, was later found to be based on a faulty calculation. A reanalysis of the data determined that the woman's loss was 27 percent while the man's gain was 10 percent. Irrespective of the magnitude of the differences, the gender gap is real and seems not to have narrowed much in recent decades.

Divorce Myth 6: When parents don't get along, children are better off if their parents divorce than if they stay together.

Fact: A recent large-scale, long-term study suggests otherwise. While it found that parents' marital unhappiness and discord have a broad negative impact on virtually every dimension of their children's well-being, so does the fact of going through a divorce. In examining the negative impacts on children more closely, the study discovered that it was only the children in very high-conflict homes who benefited from the conflict removal that divorce may bring. In lower-conflict marriages that end in divorce — and the study found that perhaps as many as two thirds of the divorces were of this type — the situation of the children was made much worse following a divorce. Based on the findings of this study, therefore, except in the minority of high-conflict marriages it is better for the children if their parents stay together and work out their problems than if they divorce.

Divorce Myth 7: Because they are more cautious in entering marital relationships and also have a strong determination to avoid the possibility of divorce, children who grow up in a home broken by divorce tend to have as much success in their own marriages as those from intact homes.

Fact: Marriages of the children of divorce actually have a much higher rate of divorce than the marriages of children from intact families. A major reason for this, according to a recent study, is that children learn about marital commitment or permanence by observing their parents. In the children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a lifelong marriage has been undermined.

According to Professor Popenoe as quoted in DISCOVERY HEALTH, most divorces are initiated by women (statistically two-thirds of the time). Would this perhaps be due to what has been said to be a matriarchal legal system which has tended to favor women over men in cases of divorce?

"Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower."

Perhaps the one good thing that might come of the developing economic trouble will be more parental contact due to reduced financial resources and lack of available employment. This will mean less daycare and less nannies as substitutes. It cannot be stressed anymore than to say that the current economic depression will probably be a protracted one. Couples need to be reminded that a one household family is much more economically efficient than a family split into two homes. Primary care givers of children, traditionally mothers, need to be made aware of this (see study results above about your impending decrease in wealth should you divorce). This downturn is not your garden variety recession. Give it a few years and you'll see what I mean. After considering the emotional devastation wrought upon children with a decision to divorce consider your grounds for divorce very, very carefully in light of the financial consequences. Outside of the most serious grounds for divorce those parents who would go ahead with this decision without being cognizant of how serious this economic depression will become, may well begin to see how certain marital dissatisfactions might turn out to be very petty ones. This is a time to take on a fortress mentality as a family unit. You might place your divorce plans on hold for the time being. Who knows you might thank this economy for keeping the family unit intact as you inadvertantly just might place your wants and desires second to the well-being of your children.

Divorce Myth 9: Being very unhappy at certain points in a marriage is a good sign that the marriage will eventually end in divorce.

Fact: All marriages have their ups and downs. Recent research using a large national sample found that 86 percent of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980s, and stayed with the marriage, indicated when interviewed five years later that they were happier. Indeed, three fifths of the formerly unhappily married couples rated their marriages as either "very happy" or "quite happy."

In the scenario depicted in the video below, although played by actors, is a sad illustration of a failed parent who denied her child a two parent household. And for what? She doesn't even know anymore:

Grounds for Divorce?

After having said all of that, it goes without saying....carefully, carefully and wisely choose your partner only after considerable passage of time together.

DISCOVERY HEALTH: Debunking Divorce Myths
Falling Down (1993), Warner Bros. Pictures