Divorce and Parenting
Vinita Panjabi recalls, "When Sanjay and I decided to get a divorce, I think we fought the most about who would keep the children. I remember being so angry and hurt that I wanted to hit back in any way possible. I just wanted to leave and take my children with me so that I could forget that I had ever been married to him."
Divorce is usually a bitter and acrimonious
process. Desperate to get out of a bad marriage and to hurt each other
as much as possible, couples become blind to the needs of their children.
Children often become pawns in the game of one-upmanship that often accompanies
divorce proceedings. Divorce spells the end of a couple's relationship
as husband and wife. However, it does not mean that they are divorced from
their children. That's one relationship that continues "till death do you
part." Even after you are divorced, you and your spouse will play an important
role in your children's lives, unless one of you totally gives up the responsibility
of being a parent.
The trauma of divorce
How many times have you heard people say that they stayed together because of the children? While divorce is no piece of cake for the parents, it can be truly traumatic for the children. Children are probably the most affected by a divorce, but this is a matter in which they have no say. Everything is in a state of flux and there is no security or stability in their lives.
Children always feel that divorce
is something that happens to other people and that their parents will be
together forever. In a divorce, children find themselves torn between their
parents. Occasionally, they are made to choose who they would prefer to
live with and one can only imagine what a heart-wrenching decision that
must be. Overnight one parent becomes a visitor in their lives. They often
hear one parent badmouthing the other. They're not sure which parent is
the 'good guy' and which the bad. For children who see everything in black
and white, the shades of grey associated with a divorce are beyond their
comprehension. Lack of understanding about the reason for this catastrophe
coupled with evasive explanations from their parents leave them wondering
if perhaps they were to blame. They will always feel that they are part
of an incomplete family and are missing out on something. It's even more
bewildering if one parent remarries. Now they have to cope with adjusting
to accepting a complete stranger as their 'mother' or 'father'. No wonder
children wish their parents would stay together no matter how bad things
Divorce is an ugly word. And when children are involved it's not just ugly, it's messy. Most people decide to get a divorce after much deliberation and because they see no other way out. However, a divorce is rarely as clean a break as they expect. If a couple has children, there is no way that they will be absolutely free of each other, even after a divorce.
For the sake of the children, you and your spouse should try not to take an adversarial approach. Try to sit across the table from each other and make decisions regarding your lives and your children's lives keeping everyone's best interests in mind.
Even if you're not married to each
other any more, you should try to share the parenting. You should aim to
develop a parenting plan that will ensure that the children will be able
to spend sufficient time with both parents, to benefit from their love,
affection, influence, support, and ideas. Whatever decisions you take should
disrupt the children's lives as little as possible. Life should go on as
before as far as possible. Your anger and resentment should take a backseat
when it comes to making financial arrangements. There is no point cutting
off your spouse's money supply if it is going to affect your children as
well. Remember that they are not to blame. It would be ideal if both spouses
would agree that all major decisions regarding the children should be taken
jointly. The fact is that a divorce is as acrimonious as the people involved
make it. If you choose to be amicable, it will just make it that much easier
for you and your children to cope with the divorce and its aftermath.
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