This is a call to civility, collaboration and sanity on behalf of all the children of divorce (big and small); whether in past (or is it?), present (and hopefully no more in the future)…who found themselves caught up in the storm of a contentious divorce, with no where to turn!
Unintended Consequences of Divorce
Perhaps one of the biggest cost of divorce, is the impact on our children. There are recent studies that show that children are not necessarily harmed by the divorce itself, but rather are harmed by the way their parents dealt with each other during the process.
So the more contentious and hostile the divorce, the greater the negative impact on the children.
I have had the opportunity to witness and experience this first hand, both with my own daughter and with other “children of divorce”.
I can’t tell you how many times when I meet so-called children of divorce, now all grown up, who by the mere fact of me mentioning the word divorce, instantaneously get teleported back to their childhood traumatic divorce experiences.
The intensity and rawness of that (past) experience becoming fully re-activated and re-experienced in the present.
Let’s pause for a moment and take this in… 20 or 30 plus years later the trauma still internalized, very real and experienced as if it was just yesterday!
This is how my daughter encapsulated her experience, “when you are a kid going through something like this, you don’t even understand what you are going through or how to process it. And then one day, at 23, you wake up to the realization that, you are still trying to make sense of it all”
Our Responsibility to Our Children
This begs the questions… what are we doing to our children? and for what what gain? Is it worth it… the payoff we are desperately and may I add, blindly chasing after?
Yes I understand divorce is a very complex process, a highly charged and difficult time confounded by an intense emotional upheaval.
But, I also understand that it is our moral and parental responsibility to shield our children from the impact of this upheaval no matter what.
And I also understand that it can be hard to do especially when emotions are so raw and we feel wronged in one way or another and we are seeking for a way to be made whole again.
This still does not however change the fact that it’s not fair nor right to have our children become collateral damage or be used as pons in our relentless pursuit of emotional justice and self righteousness.
A caveat, relentless pursuit of emotional justice is like trying to fill a leaky bucket…! True emotional freedom (justice) is an inside job! Plugging the holes you will find is a matter of self-responsibility, self-accountability, self-awareness, radical self-inquiry and deliberate action.
At the very least we owe our children some degree of sanity, security and certainty!
It is their unalienable right. The right to be happy. The right to love and be loved unconditionally. And the right to be shielded from all of this turmoil.
Unless your spouse is a raging lunatic or is a danger to themselves and others…then yes, by all means do everything in your power to protect yourself and the kids from them.
However if this is not the case, your partner is a decent human being albeit not perfect (but then who is), we owe it to our children to at least try to be generative, civil and collaborative in our approach to resolving this impasse.
So how do we spare our children from the aftermath of a traumatic divorce experience?
Very simple, Put Them First – remember the “best interest of the child”? That means put them above everything else, especially our story of divorce (how we were wronged) and the need for self vindication!
That means mitigate the trauma by taking the “Battle or Insanity” out of the divorce process. It really does not have to be this way…with all the animosity, resentment, anger, confusion and overwhelm!
I know this sounds harsh, but I feel it has to be said. And I am grateful you are still with me. I want you to know I don’t take your engagement for granted!
The fact that you are still reading speaks volume about you, your character, the love for your children and the desire to do right about them!
Having said that, I would like to offer some practical steps you can begin to take towards the path of civility.