When a group of relationship counsellors was polled to determine what the leading cause of divorce was, 74% of them agreed that the biggest predictor was differing opinions on things like money or raising children. These are issues that have to be hammered out in a divorce, so if you struggled to get along with your spouse during marriage, divorce can turn the simmering debate into an all-out war. Assets have to be divided, and co-parenting arrangements must be made, but don’t allow the process to make you lose sight of what’s really important.
A Minor Skirmish Between Parents is a Battle in a Child’s Eyes
A little girl’s video for her parents has just gone viral. According to Tiana’s mother, her parents are already divorced and are co-parenting the six-year-old. Tiana’s mom went out to badminton one day and left Tiana in the care of her father. Upon her return, Tiana’s mom discovered that one of her shelving units in the garage had fallen apart, leaving more than 50 pairs of shoes scattered about. Her dad came outside and ranted a bit about how the units were garbage, and Tiana’s mom tells him to go away if he isn’t going to help. It sounds like the type of mild disagreement many parents have, and the girl’s mom said on her Facebook page that it wasn’t even an actual argument. To little Tiana, though, it was a fight, and it upset her to see her parents treat each other poorly.
Tiana’s Viral Video Tells Parents How to Handle Divorce
“I’m not trying to be mean. I just want everyone to be friends,” Tiana says near the start of the video. “And if I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice, too.” Her wishes echo what experts advise of co-parents today. It’s important for parents to avoid having any tumultuous discussions in front of their children, even if the parents don’t believe it’s an actual argument. Children often believe the problem is much worse than it is, and they routinely blame themselves for it. In this case, the discussion didn’t involve Tiana, though had it been her toys that fell, rather than shoes, it would be easy to see how a child could fault herself.
A Calm, Business-Like Relationship is Necessary for Co-Parenting
In the video, Tiana goes on to explain how she wants everyone to smile, and that she wants “everything to settle down.” She asks her parents to do their best, and says, “I want you to settle your mean heights down a little too little short heights.” All too often, parents continue to hold anger towards a former spouse, for what they should have done, or over ways, they have been wronged. Although it’s difficult, experts agree that it’s imperative that parents set these feelings aside. The divorce is done, and the relationship is over. While divorced parents may never be friends, a business-like relationship can be formed. This enables the former couple to check their emotions, and handle ongoing responsibilities as if coworkers.
Meet Some Parents who Got it Right
Interestingly, “divorce selfies” seem to be on the rise. One particular former couple snapped their photo outside the local courthouse, just after filing. Shannon Neuman posted the image with a note to her Facebook page, though she probably wasn’t expecting the massive response she received. “We have respectfully, thoughtfully and honourably ended our marriage in a way that will allow us to go forward as parenting partners for our children,” she wrote. She then went on to explain that they’ve decided to co-parent as positively as possible, so their children never feel like they have to choose. She adds, “It’s possible to love your kids more than you hate/distrust/dislike your ex,” which is certainly a message that deserves to be relayed.
That’s not to say that Tiana’s parents have failed, or are causing long-term damage. It’s ok for kids to see disagreements, and it’s healthy for them to see how they can be worked out peacefully. However, discussions about divorce or parenting should never occur around them, and parents should do their best (as Tiana would say) to be friendly to each other. While the relationship may be over, you will always have your former partner as a co-parent, and your child loves him or her as much as he loves you. Be mindful of your words and actions.
Written by Robert Widner, a Divorce Lawyer in Dallas Texas.