On this week’s episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8, the justification for their upcoming divorce is that “it is not good for us to be arguing in front of our kids.” I have heard this argument used many times. In fact, I have had many people ask me which is worse: divorce or having your parents constantly argue.
I am able to weigh in on this because I remember when my parents were together (now divorced) all of the arguing that took place. I remember hearing yelling, door slamming, and other clamor. Eventually it led to divorce. So which is better? I think most will agree that heated arguments and fights should not be done in front of the children. Those are bad memories that can be burned into the young mind. But I think we cannot overlook the benefit of showing children that even though mommy and daddy may have arguments, they will still stay together. We are in a society, unfortunately, that has taught children that arguing parents will be divorced parents within short time. While parents need to keep their arguments away from their children’s eyes and ears, it is useful for children to know that mommy and daddy will stay together even when things are not going well or are not perfect.
Many radio psychologists say that it is better to get divorced and have peace (as indicated in the Jon and Kate Plus 8 episode) than fight in front of the children. But I have many responses to this new line of thinking.
1. God says to stay together. Fighting is not a scriptural cause for divorce (Matthew 19:6). Fighting is an acceptable cause for counseling.
2. Children would rather than their parents together, even with the fighting, than apart. What most couples, including Jon and Kate, fail to realize is that the fighting between them will not stop. The children will still be exposed to their fighting. But the fighting is much worse. While the fighting will be less frequent, the fighting is worse because now it IS over the children. Fighting over visitation times. Fighting over custody. Fighting over how the other acted around the children. Fighting over activities planned or neglected with the children. Fighting over holidays and who spends time with who.
The situation is worse not better. Before, the fighting was between the spouses over many other things, from clothes on the floor to coming home late from work. Those things are no longer the issue once divorced. However, the resentment, anger, and hurt still remain toward each other. So now there is only one thing in common over which to fight: THE CHILDREN. And the children know it. They will hear the arguments over them and this is far worse emotionally than the arguing that took place while married.
3. Divorce brings greater instability to the children’s lives than arguing. Arguing is temporary. The children can go play and forget about what they heard. Divorce is permanent. The children cannot go play and forget. Now they will always be reminded that mommy and daddy are no longer together. They will be reminded of this painful fact when they wake up, when they eat dinner, when they get baths, when they go to bed, in every small and large life event because one parent is always missing. This is not better for the children than arguing.
Let me be blunt. Divorce is selfish. Divorce is not for the children; it is for the parents. They do not want to work it out. They do not want to be civil. They no longer want to try for the children. If you really love your children, as every parent says they do, then stay together for your children. Once you have children, you cannot get away from your spouse until they are out of the house. So divorce is futile. Divorce is trying to get away from your spouse, but you cannot if you are going to maintain fatherly and motherly relationships with the children. Sadly, Jon and Kate are going to see this for themselves. Though divorced, they will not be able to get away from one another any more than they already were.
Constant, heated arguing is better than constant, heated divorce.