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Marriage and Raising Kids

By Klaus Klein MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor

This is a wide and deep topic.

A marriage can often be seen as less important than raising the kids. When in reality, it is one of the most important aspects and influences on raising kids.

Over the years I have worked with well-meaning parents who believed in the idea that it is best to stay together for the sake of the children.

Divorce can be sad, scary, and disruptive to a family unit. It is the last resort for a couple. However, it is not the worst.

Long-term research through the Gottman institute on marriage shows that staying together in an unhappy marriage has more of a negative impact on children than a divorce.

Parents arguing behind distraught daughter

No doubt that the very best thing to give your children is a 'happy marriage'. The next best thing you can give is a 'happy divorce'.

‘Happy’ in the context of marriage means being in a ‘successful relationship’.

Being in a successful relationship means going through the ups and downs of life while in the marriage relationship in a caring, trusting,  loving. growing, and supportive manner.

A "Happy" divorce means a separation with minimum drama. It means the husband and wife relationship commitment is ending, which can be very sad, painful, disappointing, etc.

However, the parenting relationship and commitment can continue. The parenting relationship can actually get better when both parents create a happier life that is better for them individually.

I see 3 basic options for parents to consider.

  1. Work on the marriage and make it a successful one. This impacts not only your relationship and your life but also your parenting energy and your kids in many positive ways.
  2. Do nothing and live with the unhappiness. Bear in mind that this impacts your relationship, your life, along with your parenting, often in exhausting negative ways.
  3. Get a divorce and work on being happier parents/adults who live separate lives but can work together for the sake of the kids in their respective parenting roles.

Research shows that divorce is better than being in an unhappy couple trying to work together for the sake of the kids. So for parenting kids, work on the marriage.

If being a couple absolutely cannot workout. Then work on a divorce in a manner that allows room for supporting each other as parents.

The goal is to have a 'parenting' relationship with each other for the sake of the children. Divorced couples don't have to be best friends.

I have seen and worked with divorced couples who when it comes to raising their kids, they come together and work well.

Yes they will have some disagreements at times, just like every successful married couple has when raising kids.

But they don't bad mouth each other in front of the kids.

They speak respectfully to each other and recognize that the other parenting partner does love and wants the best for the kids.

This is far healthier for the family, parenting, and ultimately for your kids as well.

Mother dropping off child with father, waving goodbye


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Klaus Klein, MA, RCC
Phone: 604-786-0709

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Klaus Klein - Parent and Teen Counsellor

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