Are two parents better than one? Does splitting up damage your children? Isn’t it better to separate than subject your children to constant arguments? We’ve
heard these questions before, which is not a surprise because the decision to
stay or go is enormous. What is the right answer?
As someone who practices contextual behavioural science, I think the answer is this: it depends! It depends because it’s about trying to decide on what works best in your specific set of circumstances. Context matters and every situation is different, so can you come up with a blanket rule to be followed that applies to all
One of our jobs as parents is to teach our children about relationships because we want them to grow up and form healthy connections with people. For them to do that, we need to model that first so they get to see what that is like and learn how to do it.
As you navigate this dilemma, I think it makes more sense to ask this question: how can I best model a healthy relationship with my children? If you agree that this is an important parental responsibility, then it is not so black and white as should I stay or should I go? It’s more complex.
Ending a marriage might make more sense if you have a lot of conflicts. Otherwise, you show your children that this his how one communicates. Ending relationships also makes sense if your partner acts in very controlling ways. For one partner to succeed in being controlling, the other partner needs to be subservient. Again, this is not healthy modelling for your children.
When should you stay together?
Again, a better question might be: would I like to stay together? When you can be clear about what you want, rather than what your mind tells you ‘should’ do, then you exercise your free choice. By making a choice, you model something useful to your kids. You show them that choice is always possible, no matter what your mind says. When you choose, you connect with what you care about and this gives greater meaning and purpose to your life. If you put this into your life, then your children will observe that and be more likely to copy it.
In short, our children do as we do, not so much what we tell them to do. If we want our kids to develop certain skills and abilities, then we make that more likely if we
develop those skills first. Then you get to show them through your actions.
Take a look at this week’s round-up of ideas from around the world to help you work, love, play and feel better.
The Openforwards Weekly Round-Up
- 7.6 Million Parents stay together for their parents. Article in Happiful Magazine who are ‘on a mission to create a healthier, happier, more
- Asking for it Post in Letterbox Birmingham about Louise O’Neill’s book exploring sexual consent, which is currently on stage at REP Theatre until 15th February.
- Top 10 Gottman Relationship blog posts of 2019. List of excellent posts from the world’s foremost authority on the success of a marriage.
- 8 Truths about Intuition Matthew Hutson explores ‘eight facets of unconscious
processing—including its application to creativity, morality, and social
interaction—looking at what it does well, where it fails, who uses it, when we
trust it, and how to improve it.’
- Podcast Episode: How to navigate a fear of abandonment is one of the most popular episodes of Self-Help Sat-Nav exploring the roots of interpersonal fears.