Posts Tagged ‘Divorce and Children’

Christmas isn’t fun for everyone.

If you are separated or divorced, you know only too well, how difficult Christmas can be.  There is the idealized image portrayed by glossy magazines and TV adverts.  The image of happy families opening presents under the tree and sharing fun and laughter around a table piled high with food.  The reality is a little different. Few people if any have anything like that sort of Christmas.  Christmas, though, can highlight all the feelings associated with separation and make feeling alone and isolated more acute.  Children shared between households, can also be painful especially if you are used to being all together.  I think it is important to try not to be seduced by how fabulous everyone else’s life is and remember that nothing is that ideal.  Loss is painful but good things can come out of it and Christmas is only a day.  Try to concentrate on making it work for you, by making sure that you are busy if you want to be or that you have some good DVD’s and nice food lined up if you don’t.  2012 will blow out with the weather and 2013 will blow in with fresh possibilities and a new start.

Don’t blame the Children.

There was an article this week about children causing more rows between couples than money or any other worries.  I don’t think it is right to say they cause rows, but more that it is the stress and exhaustion associated with bringing up children that exacerbates tension in a relationship.  That tension is then amplified by not really being able to speak entirely freely whilst the kids are around for fear it might escalate into a full blown war, which as well as being not very edifying to be a witness to, is positively damaging for children.   Biting one’s tongue though serves to relegate feelings to the back burner where they simmer and darken ready to explode into a Technicolor show down at the drop of a hat.  Either that, or silence descends as there seems to be no outlet for what needs to be communicated.  Silence generates more silence until the power to communicate is lost and there seems to be no connection between the couple. So, how can couples avoid that slow build up?  One way, is to recognise what is happening and make some time for each other.  Put the children to bed if they are young and have dinner together, no TV and talk.  Bring each other up to date and say what is on your mind.  If the children are older and you don’t need to stay in, then go out, even if it’s for a walk.  Remember how you felt about each other before the children came along and try to be a couple again.  Children are great at getting between a couple, either by playing one off against the other or by just being demanding of all your time.  It takes a super human effort to make time for each other as adults.  Put the toys away, turn the lights down and however tired you are, get in touch with the romantic spirit that once compelled you to commit to each other.

Summer Time Blues

Summer is the longest school holiday of the year and parents who hitherto have been ‘short-changed’ in the child contact department feel, that now is their opportunity to spend real, quality, uninterrupted time with their child.  Now, due to the length of the holiday, they can even manage a two week break to take them away.  Is this wonderful?  Not to the parent, seething with resentment that a holiday with the ex, might mean forfeiting their own plans for a holiday with their child.  What often happens is, that despite the fact that the summer is about 6 weeks in length, both parents decide that they want to take their child on holiday over the same period of time.  Not possible.  Who should take precedence then?  The argument goes, that tickets have already been bought, or that the grandparents are only available to be on holiday with the child during that particular time, or the step or half brothers and sisters are only available (on release from their resident parent) during that two weeks and how nice would it be if your child could be on holiday at the same time as them.  The argument on the other side goes that the child’s godmother has invited him and you away and that is the only time that she has that particular flat that you can all stay in, or a whole bunch of friends have rented a villa and they are all going with their children, so you can’t go without yours.  It is the judgement of Solomon to make these decisions in the absence of agreement.  Whichever parent succeeds the other parent fails.  One is bound to be unhappy.  In the last resort, it may be necessary to go to Court. Judgements are based on what happened last summer, whose plans are the most immoveable, what would be best for the child.  

Do other factors come into play when ex couples polarise themselves and pitch into battle?  Is it that it is hard to be on your own for two weeks without your children when you are the main carer and with them most of the time.  Is it that, feeling on the edge of things as the non-resident parent, it is the time to redress the balance and equalise the scales in your favour.   Both these things are true and both bring with them, problems because it is the children who are caught in the middle.  The summer reminds us of times when we were together as a family, making plans all under one roof and singing from the same hymn sheet.  The summer post separation can feel more like an argument waiting to happen and it can feel like loss and unfamiliarity.  It’s not easy to find a suitable holiday venue alone with your children that you feel comfortable with so invitations from friends or family have to be taken advantage of even if the dates don’t suit everyone.  Summer time and the living is easy? Not always.

Mr Justice Wall – impact of parents at war on their children.

Very interested to read Mr Justice Walls’ comments.  I agree that not all parents when going through divorce are truly mindful of the impact of their hostile relationship on their children. We all know that children are used as pawns in the battle between parents, but sometimes the situation is more subtle.  If one parent denigrates the other either to or in front of the children, that child has to do something with that information. The impact is to make them feel that part of them is ‘bad’ as they are made up of both parents.  Usually it means that the child can’t say anything nice about their parent to the other for fear it is not something that she or he will want to hear, so will split things in their mind, always being mindful of what not to say and what to say. Brought up where pesonal truth is not applauded but only what the recipient can tolerate is not healthy for a child.  Parents often feel that they can recruit their children to their view in the name of having a close relationship.  What is ignored there, is that the child loses out on having relationship with the other parent which is essential for healthy development into adulthood.  One parent may feel that is a good thing as what the other has to offer is not good enough.  Usually though, the other parent was good enough whilst married but suddenly acquires a not good enough persona simply through the act of divorce.  It is essential that children are unfettered in their relationship with both parents and that each can encouage him or her in that relationship. That way, guilt, blame, low self esteem and loneliness are not ignited and carried into adulthood.