My Marriage is a Mess but Am I Still a Good Parent
February 09, 2020
Deciding whether to stay in an unhappy relationship or leave is possibly one of the hardest decisions a person could make; being a parent only makes this choice more difficult.

Dear Jennifer,

I am writing you as a concerned parent. My daughter is in a very unhealthy relationship, yet she continues to stay. I’ve begged her to leave because I feel like her relationship is negatively affecting my grandchildren. Her response is “my kids don’t see what goes on between us” and “I am I still a very good mom even though my relationship is a disaster”. She’s desperately holding on to a situation that can cause significant, emotional distress to her kids. How do I help her see that she is hurting her children?

Concerned Grandma

Ask the Love Expert Jennifer J. Hayes

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Dear Concerned Grandma,

Not knowing the specifics of your daughter's current situation, it’s hard for me to know if the children are being harmed by her relationship. However, I absolutely agree that the state of her relationship is impacting her children and how they will form relationships, and eventually parent. So many times, people justify staying in a less-than-fruitful relationship because they believe it has no affect on their ability to parent. This is simply unrealistic.   No one can be a good parent or co-parent when their relationship is in turmoil, or if they aren’t communicating well with their partner. The fact of the matter is romantic relationships impact one’s mood, mental health and perspective on life; all of which significantly affect the environment a child grows up in.

Your daughter doesn’t believe that there is a problem because she’s thinks her kids don’t know what’s going on. But children are constantly observing their surroundings and can sense tension, hostility and anger. This is why resolving conflicts in front of kids is so important. Disagreements are inevitable; nevertheless, children need to learn (and see) how two adults who love each other communicate and resolve issues. This will only benefit them in adulthood. 

Children, as much as adults want to deny it, are sponges who absorb and then mimic what they see.  In most cases, the effects of emotional damage won’t come out right away. Instead, it will reveal itself in the choices you make as a teenager or parenting as an adult.

To all the couples with children who are thinking about repairing or leaving their relationships, understand the impact that decision has on your legacy. Your kids see your marriage day in and day out. Make sure you’re setting an example for the type of relationship you’d want them to have.


Jennifer J. Hayes


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