I was shocked to hear of actress Mayim Bialik’s divorce recently, just six months since the release of her parenting memoir, Beyond the Sling. Many people would say they weren’t. They would say that she was too invested in her children, in her style of parenting, to be able to sustain her marriage. And, of course, they would bring up the cosleeping as a major cause of unrest in the union.
How about that their divorce is occurring because marriage is just plain hard? No matter whether you parent this way or that. No matter whether your marriage has major relationship difficulties, such as mental illness, or not. It’s just hard. Two very different people living in close quarters – more if you add in kids – and a constant balancing and re-balancing of individual versus family versus couple priorities. That’s hard!
We don’t know the reason beyind Mayim’s divorce, and it’s unfair for anyone to speculate. It could be that it was a long time coming, that they kept hoping it would work, but they finally looked at one another one night after the fifth heart-wrenching argument in three days and asked each other, Why are we doing this? That they realized that they were hurting each other and their kids more by staying together rather than being apart.
There’s a lot of blame being put on Mayim’s specific parenting choices, especially bedsharing and extended breastfeeding. But if she was parenting the exact opposite, formula-feeding out of the hospital and doing cry-it-out, would her parenting style be blamed as much? Do we ever speculate that maybe some of the divorces that happen due to parenting style are because the mom just could not bear witness to another night of baby screaming so hard that he vomits?
And, of course, the critics come down hard on Mayim for “knowing better” of what separation does to young children. Of course, she knows. That certainly doesn’t make it any easier. But she is undoubtedly, more so than many parents I’m sure, weighing the heartache of divorce.
I’m not an advocate for divorce, but like just about any married person will tell you, I understand why divorce happens. I know the difficulty of working through really tough times for months, even years, at a time and wondering, Is this healthy for my kids, myself? I can understand why divorce is appealing. And I know that the research shows that children can sometimes benefit more from parents getting a divorce than staying together “for the sake of the children.”
I just don’t think it’s right for people to start speculating that Mayim’s parenting style was responsible for her marriage’s breakup, unless she comes out and says it directly. Many people would say that, well, that’s what happens with celebrities – they’re in the public eye and therefore the object of our gossip. I say, let’s take the higher road and think about the real person under that celeb persona.
Can a parenting style break up a marriage? I suppose anything can be blamed, but what really breaks up a marriage is that couple’s relationship – all the complex, complicated, nooks and crannies of that relationship. There are a lot of happy marriages where the children cosleep and breastfeed. And there are a lot of happy marriages where the children sleep in their own beds in their own rooms and formula-feed and soothe themselves to sleep by thumb-sucking. Let’s leave the discussion of parenting where it should be – in raising children – and rather than try to guess the secret reason for Mayim’s or anybody’s divorce, give them the compassion they so need at this moment. That marriage is hard and Mayim and her husband are trying to do the best they can for themselves, each other, and their family – even if we don’t agree with it ourselves.
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Can a Parenting Style Break Up a Marriage? (December 4, 2012)
Last reviewed: 4 Dec 2012