As we comfortably settle into the New Year I realised I had made no wish list for ideal divorces. There are certain attributes of divorce that absolutely deserve to be relegated to the garbage bin of 2016.Every month of 2017 I will share one of these with you.
Children as Pawns-In most acrimonious divorces, children become the foot soldiers who are despatched into the proxy war by parents. The parents are like the King and Queen who decide the next move of the children to satisfy their own egos and the children, unwittingly, become the causalities of this divorce battle. Even the rumours and some facts around Brangelina’s divorce suggests that children were right in the thick of the divorce .Do the parents do this purposely? Surprisingly, the parents at an intellectual level are aware of what they are doing to their children but when it comes to backing down and actually keeping the children out of their own ‘personal situation’, they forget that the children belong to both of them and their actions are hurting the children rather than benefitting them. Instead of subjecting their children to King Solomon’s test perhaps they need to draw upon from his wisdom. Instead of splitting the children into half and expecting them to take sides the parents should restrict their fighting unto themselves.
The worst is when we expect the child to behave like an adult in the entire emotionally messy situation when we are behaving like spoilt children. The parents want it all, in a divorce and when they don’t get it they throw tantrums and the poor kids are expected to console the parents. The roles are reversed and one can only imagine the emotional burden on young kids. Forget playing ‘Mummy and Daddy’ for dollhouses, they are actually expected to be the Real McCoy in this situation that they are thrown into, much against their will.
What is abhorrent is when parents confide into children and expect them to navigate through the treacherous emotional, financial and physical landmine of their parents’ fractured relationship. If the father hasn’t done well financially, he is humiliated before the child, either in his presence or his absence and the child carries forward these fragmented images of the father and pieces them together to get what he thinks is the complete picture. But the picture is actually incomplete and distorted by the changed circumstances of divorce. Whereas before the divorce, the financial failure of the father may be covered up or overlooked by the mother and explained in more endearing terms to the child, but with the new variable of divorce thrown in, the picture painted is usually dark and bleak. The reverse also holds true for the mother, let’s say being a working mother and not spending enough time with the child. The situations may vary but expecting the child to be your navigator through this arduous journey of divorce is really asking them for too much.
When we subject the children to choose between the two parents it would be a tough decision for the child, like choosing between his two favourite candies. Instead, if parents remember that they both love their children in their own way and the welfare of the child is supreme, the children would be the beneficiaries of their largesse. Whatever you might say, you may stop being husband and wife, but you’ll never stop being ‘Mom and Dad’.
Originally published at medium.com