Hero or cad. Nurturer or despoiler. Team builder or relationship wrecker.
Such dichotomies logically emerge for many couples during divorce negotiations and following the execution of a divorce decree.
Feelings are hurt. Bridges are burnt. Things are obviously tense between the divorcing or just-divorced parties — after all, marital dissolution is the flip side of that initial walk down the aisle and all its beckoning potential.
A recent media piece penned by a divorce columnist offers some candid and sage advice for how adults with children should act during the lead up to divorce and at all times thereafter. In what is essentially a primer on kids, divorce and sound parenting, that writer talks about the steps that caring parents — albeit combating partners — should take to ensure that their children grow up healthy following a marital split.
One immediately notable point is the stressing of divorce mediation as opposed to the adversarialism that frequently marks the formal courtroom process. The writer likens that to “an ugly street fight.”
Mediation is obviously not for every divorcing person, but the process can make great sense for parents seeking to keep things as civil as possible.
What also makes sense is honesty — to a degree. What that means is fully and timely informing kids about an impending split, but only to the point where they can comprehend things. What the above-cited post strongly recommends is a so-called “mutual story” told by both parents together. That tale should underscore the lack of fault in the children and the certainty that, despite obvious changes upcoming, the family will continue to be viable going forward.
And here’s a strong piece of advice for parents, especially moms and dads who can hardly restrain themselves from denigrating each other in front of the kids: Suck it up, “taking every opportunity possible to speak positively about your co-parent.”
Kids need a unified front of love, not parental division and sniping.
We will have a bit more to say about divorce mediation in our next blog post.