Divorce and Children
I have seen this article floating around on the internet for some time now and I still find it relevant to talk about with many parents. Judge Michael Haas, who is now a retired Minnesota Judge, made these comments during a difficult divorce case. While his words are rather blunt, they are helpful. He talks about how children are half of each of their parents, and to give them messages that their parent (or your ex) is bad, is to give them a message that they are bad. Something that I often discuss with parents is that children are very sensitive and perceptive. They do not necessarily need to hear you call your ex a bad name to feel the negativity. They can sense it through our complaints, our roll of the eyes, or our tone of voice.
Another important note about Judge Haas’s comments is that I do not think he is saying that parents should never divorce. In fact, sometimes it is better for children if parents do. Research suggests that children growing up in a two-parent versus one-parent household does not have as large an effect on children’s wellbeing as the amount of arguing between parents does. This goes for parents who are together or separated. Children experiencing high conflict between their parents is confusing and upsetting. Just as children are perceptive at sensing negativity in the relationship, they are perceptive at notcing conflict and arguments. They hear a lot more than we think they do when they are supposed to be in their bedrooms, sleeping, playing outside, or waiting in the car.
While you may loathe your ex, and you may even have good reasons to, trying to remember that they are half of the reason that your child is in this world and your child sees themselves as half made up of them, may help you to refocus yourself and prioritize your child’s point of view over your own hurt feelings. This is not an easy task to accomplish, and we often have to work at it over and over again. Reading these words may be a helpful reminder.
Read here for the full article.