What does it mean, “In the Best Interests of the Children”? If you are a separated or divorced family, you may have used this term in your agreement. I want to start from the beginning when you were married and how this term can relate to anyone who is in a relationship, be it married, common-law, or raising children together.
The Commitment to Children
When you decided as a couple to have children, you made a commitment to them to raise them the best way you possibly could. You made a promise to feed, clothe, parent, keep safe and love your children.
Relationships do end. As we see statistically, almost half of marriages end in divorce. When you divorce your spouse, the commitment you made to your children in the beginning does not change, except now you and their other parent are no longer married, and that is between two consenting adults. Children do not get divorced, parents do.
What happens to children when parents decide to stay in unloving marriages? Parents teach children that unloving marriages and relationships are normal and okay. This means, if you are no longer lovers and best friends with your partner, you are separated in your marriage and now your children are learning that dysfunctional relationships are normal. Children know when relationships are not going well. Children, as young as 5 years old, can tell you if their parents are having a good marriage. When children witness ignoring, silent treatment, no kissing, no hugging, parents not sleeping in the same bedroom, never spending time together, parenting separately, and speaking loudly to each other, children start to believe this is a “normal” relationship behaviour. Was this your intention when you got married and then had children?
Now, think about a child’s future. Now they are in their first relationship, and what they witnessed in your unhappy and unloving relationship, they deem normal. I am hoping that we want to show our children very loving, happy relationships that are respectful, mutual and kind.
Staying for the children could be detrimental to their perception of what a healthy relationship is. When in reality your relationship is very unhealthy, do them a favour; leave for your children, so they can live authentic, happy lives.
If you feel you are separating in your marriage, don’t wait, get help right away. If you are no longer best friends and lovers with your partner, start a conversation and check in with your partner to see if the marriage is worth working on, or if the marriage is over, and now the children are your top priority.
Parents who put their children first in a separation and divorce, have a better chance at an amicable separation and divorce at a reasonable cost.
Children who have parents that decide it is better for them to separate and keep the commitment they made to them from the beginning, will have a safe and loving atmosphere in both homes to grieve and heal the separation, because both parents are available to love them and parent them, and they themselves, as parents, take time to grieve and heal.