I think it depends a lot on the extent to which your parents don't get on. Most parents have rows now and then and disagree over some pretty important things. That's tolerable and I would plump for marriage over divorced parents any day. Parents who row all the time and barely speak to each other is a living hell for the child and I would personally prefer it if they were divorced. Not to mention that chances are the parents themselves aren't happy and would much rather make a life with someone else.
i would rather have them divorced than together and miserable any day! as we are all happier for it.
my parents seperated when i was 4 but they tried again when i was about 10 (think they tried one time before that as well but i dont remember it as they didnt tell us, whereas the second time they actually moved in together again). when they did try again it went well for a while and then they kept arguing at night when they thought we were asleep in bed, which was horrible and i used to lie in bed crying when i heard them (i actually used to self harm at the time as it was pretty bad, hair pulling, not cutting i may add, not that anyone noticed). my dad stormed out in the middle of the night on a few occasions, didnt know if he was coming back and obviously angry plus driving at night is a bad combination and no-one was happy - the worst was a huge argument one christmas (think my dad told my uncle to "stay out of it you geordie bastard" which is quite unlike him and just made all hell break loose, though we dont really like that uncle and he deserved it). it was just a really dark and upsetting time for everyone involved really so we were glad when they decided to go their seperate ways.
my parents have both been pretty civil to each other around me and my sister, which i give them credit for as a lot of couples dont and i believe it is the way that parents handle it, more than the act of seperating itself, that determines how well the child will cope with it.
dad has always kept in contact with me and my older sister, we used to go to his every weekend, and over holidays when we were younger, christmas was with mum, boxing day with dad, but as we got older and started making more friends in our teens, where we would have made plans to see them, then our dad has always gone with what we choose to do in terms of us spending time with him. im very close to both my parents and if they had stayed together miserably then i dont think that would have been the case, so i am glad they arent together.
they have both remarried and are very happy with their new partners. i am also very close to my step-mum and her daughter and husband, who have given me 2 beautiful nephews and a gorgeus baby niece last november, as well as a few members of my mums husbands family (not so much him as we dont have much in common, but we get on ok, hence why he is her husband and not my step-dad, and we have grown up with some of his family as his brothers wife is my mums best friend from school so they were like family anyway). if they had not of got divorced and remarried my life would have been a lot different,probably for the worse and i give them full credit for the way it was all handled and without it i wouldnt have some of these lovely people in my life and my beautiful niece and nephews who i adore.
admittedly it can be a bit awkward at times - my sisters 21st when they were all together, and my sisters wedding may be a bit awkward as well, but they're handling it all pretty well, as long as they dont have to sit together, which may be for the best to have them on opposite ends of the table, but they will all be civil and polite to each other, and my graduation may be a bit awkward as to who goes with me but ill deal with that when i get to it next year.
so in short divorced and happy over together and miserable.
Growing up in an unhappy home is very hard on a child, arguments are triggered over the least little thing and being in that environment for for the first 16 years of a child's life will echo throughout the rest of their life. Its like being trained, a certain action, phrase or event triggers a reaction. Once out of the family home or once an adult the child will still expect from others or even deliver themselves, the same reaction they learnt as a youngster in the family home.
From personal experience i would have preferred my parents separating much earlier than they did, speaking to mother in recent years she tells me she always regrets not getting out years earlier when the problems began, but to be honest i don't think she would have ever left my father, in the end it took him walking out on her to end the marriage.
I do however feel for my youngest sister, she lives with my mum, only 16 and has been a child of divorce since 9, out of us 4 siblings she is the most successful academically and she has never been in trouble with the law, but i see her sometimes as quite withdrawn and lacking confidence. It seems to me she is being used in a war of manipulation between my parents who not really talk, my mother is forever bad mouthing my father, which is fair enough but it shouldn't be done in front of my sister and from what i'm told my father has nothing nice to say about my mother.
Both parents use her to pass messages and as a trading chip that can be given or withdrawn as they please, for example, my dad wants to get one up on my mum so he brings my sister back later than the agreed time, then my mum wants to get one up on my dad so she gets my sister to tell him shes not allowed to visit a certain weekend because she has something important to do.
To be fair i think they are both in the wrong, but after what my father did i fully understand why my mother hates him, only my younger brother really talks to my father these days, the 3 oldest of us remember what he was like back home, but the brother who talks to him has always been he's blue eyed boy, he was always called mini(father's name) when we were growing up.
Long story short, end it early whilst you are generally on good terms or you risk messing your kids up. All 3 of us male children now all in our 20's have had some messed up times, but fingers crossed we've grown through it, really not a very close family though and as i understand it none of us have families of our own yet, or seem to be moving towards it.
Well, my parents divorced, and watching my mum married to my stepdad who she eventually didn't get on with either (and also divorced) I can say I definitely prefer not being in a household with two adults who don't get along but are stuck together until they get a divorce (however, being in a household with two adults who do get along and love each other is fantastic I prefer my mum when she's in a happy relationship than when she's just on her own)
If you're a male and you grow up without a father (that is, from birth, or from a very young age), then you're absolutely ****ed.
A father plays a key role in a boy's development, and the near, if not complete absence of a father (or an ersatz figure of some sort- step father, or a considerably older brother) can lead to many problems down the line. Trust me on this one; it's not just speculation.
As for the other side of the coin; I'd imagine a mother's absence for a young girl would be bad, but not quite as devastating. I've known several women who grew up with only mothers, and they turned out perfectly normal.
To summarise, I honestly believe an unhappy marriage would be better for a child (especially a boy) than one where one parent was absent. That goes doubly so if the missing parent is the father, which, at least from my experience speaking of the topic to friends, contemporaries et al, seems to be the case.
EDIT: I should mention that my I personally grew up without a father, and only had a very vague step-father sort of figure in my teenage years. In other words, there may as well have been nothing.
Since I've never actually known what it is like to live in a two parent household, I guess I can only give a limited scope of reasoning. It's worth mentioning however, that I have friends who knew their father for some, if not a considerable portion of their lives, who had arrived at the same conclusion.
Having married parents is no 'better' than having parents that are separated. The important factor being parents being content to provide their children with a home life that doesn't worry/ upset them.
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