Deciding to end your marriage is, without question, one of the most heartbreaking decisions a parent will ever face.
While recent studies have suggested that kids bounce back fairly well after the initial pain of the breakup, the question looms large in every parent's mind: should we get a divorce or stick it out for the sake of the kids?
On Monday, one Redditor grappling with that very question went straight to the source, asking those on the site with divorced parents to weigh in.
"There is no abuse, but there is no love, either," the father of two said of his 10-year marriage. "It is clear at this point that we are just staying together for the kids. This isn't something that can be fixed with counseling and really we are just two people who got married too young and have too many differences."
In response, Redditors offered some fascinating insight into how their parents' divorce -- or their parents' decision to remain married -- affected their own lives. The surprising common thread? Most of the commenters whose parents stayed in unhappy marriages said they wished the grownups had divorced.
Below, five reasons the Redditors suggested getting a divorce was preferable to staying together for the sake of the kids.
Hearing their parents argue was more stressful than the divorce itself.
A Redditor whose parents divorced when he was an adult said he wished that they would have done it sooner. "It was far more stressful dealing with all of the fights and drama as a kid than it would have been to spend time with each of them separately," he wrote.
They would have realized something was wrong with the relationship, even if their parents had stayed married.
There's no fooling kids into believing your marriage is solid when it isn't, one Redditor cautioned. "It's never a good idea to stay together for the kids," he wrote. "Children are intuitive, if you're sleeping in separate rooms they probably already know something's wrong."
Their home life before the divorce was less than ideal.
Another Redditor cautioned that staying in a dead-end marriage can oftentimes hurt the very children you're trying to protect. "The atmosphere at home was very stifled and depressing with intermittent arguments and general unhappiness. I felt a lot better after moving out with my girlfriend but I realized things were only getting worse when I came home to visit my younger sisters (then 14 and six)," he said. "In the end I know [getting a divorce] was the right thing for them to do.
Unhappy parents take their feelings out on the kids.
"I will only speak from my experience. My parents are still married even though they should've divorced when I was young," one Redditor confessed. "They currently seem happy and have worked through most of their issues, but all of the emotional and physical damage has already been done." His warning to parents sticking it out solely for the children? "If you stay together for your kids, you run the high risk of subconsciously taking out your anger toward your spouse on your kids. After all, they are the only reason you are still there."
Adapting to the divorce as a kid isn't as hard as you'd think.
Another Redditor said that because his parents split up when he was just five months old, "the idea of a dad and mom together was a foreign concept to me." He explained: "I was born in mid-November, and my dad moved out just before Christmas. Because of this, I never really knew what I was missing out on. I didn't resent my dad when I was little, and simply enjoyed getting to see him."
The Redditor's wife, on the other hand, experienced her parents' divorce when she was around 23 and was floored by their split. "She got the normal childhood, with a loving mom and dad, but she was absolutely crushed when her parents divorced. They don't have a great relationship, and it's caused a lot of strain on our relationship as well."