Staying Together for the Children

Until the liberalization of divorce that began in the 1970s, many middle class parents in unhappy marriages stayed married "for the sake of the children." These parents endured their unsatisfactory marriages until the children grew up. Many considered this endurance the responsible course of action.

In her book The Divorce Remedy, Michele Weiner Davis argues that "[e]xcept in very extreme conflict-ridden families - and most families do not fit this criterion - children are better off when the parents stay married." Davis catalogues a variety of benefits accruing to people in intact marriages, including school completion and avoidance of problems (such as teenage pregnancy, drugs and delinquent behavior). Even if parents are happier after a divorce, children are not necessarily because there is no "trickle down effect." Married men make more attentive fathers. Depression is far more common among the divorced as is loneliness. Married workers tend to be more productive employees.

Divorce carries with it social costs. "Divorce increases the cost of many public health and social service programs. Single-parent households often mean children are raised in poverty or on public aid. A single mother’s standard of living almost always decreases significantly after divorce."

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