Shelly Jean John, Attorney at Law
What Are Your Children Thinking During the Divorce?
When I came across this list of 13 Things Divorced Parents Don’t Know That Their Kids Wish They Did Know, I wanted to jump out and hug author Rosaline Sedacca. During my 22 years as a family law attorney, working with divorced parents of hundreds of children, I have heard these cries from the kids. One thread that runs through nearly all of these children is that they will wrap themselves into pretzels to avoid their parent’s conflict.
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Sometimes, parents go to divorced court to ask for more time – thinking this is what the children want – only to have the children tell the mediator or the judge that they just want to keep the child custody/parenting plan the same. The parent spent thousands of dollars hiring a lawyer, endured months of anxiety, missed work, and further estranged the other parent. They did this because the children had been crying about wanting to spend more time with them.
What happened? In those child custody cases, ultimately, the children preferred peace and a relationship with both parents over being in one household. When the litigation begins, kids especially feel #2 on the list and their anxiety and guilt are amplified as they are having to choose between two parents. As expressed in #9, they cannot stand to be manipulated to be a spy or informant about the other parent --- even when the parent isn’t consciously intending to put the children in this position.
I encourage every parent to read this list of 13 insights and messages children of divorce want their parents to know and that parents often overlook or don’t want to hear. Divorce Parenting Coach, Rasalind Sedacca, has other resources for divorcing parents on her website, www.childcentereddivorce.com.
When you approach a lawyer to seek more time with your children because they are begging you to, be sure your lawyer has an open and honest conversation with you about how the children might respond. Going to court might be the best thing for your children, but you need to consider all of the ways children feel before rushing in.