Friday, April 27, 2007

The Ugly Truth About Divorce

As the most recent story of Alec Baldwin's infamous "pig" phone call to his daughter exemplifies, divorce and custody battles can get really ugly, and the biggest victims are the littlest people: the kids. When going through divorce and custody litigation, it can be so easy to take out the hurt and pain out on the children, saying terrible things to them out of frustration. Should the unfortunate circumstance of divorce happen to you or someone you love, please remember these three things:
1. Have a plan of self-care during divorce. Your limits will be tested, emotions will reach a boiling point, and you will need every ounce of cool-headedness you can muster.
2. The children need to be left out of the divorce; it's the parent's divorce, not theirs. They do not need to know any of the details over money, lawyers, posessions, etc. Talk to the kids about what's going on in their lives, not about what's going on in that of their parents.
3. Kids need to have regular and unrestricted access to both parents (barring, of course, any history of abuse). Whatever feelings one parent may harbor against the other should not in any way be brought to bear upon the child's relationship with that parent. Children naturally love both their parents, and they should not be asked to choose sides. Doing so is unfair to everyone.

If a parent feels unable to do these things, it's important to have someone (friend, clergy person, therapist) to hold him/her accountable, for the children's sake. Sadly, there are more divorced parents out there whose anger has overtaken them and have done terrible things they regret for the rest of their lives.

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