Children and Divorce
Much has been written about the impact of separation and divorce on children and yet few separating parents seem to properly understand how to deal with their children to lessen the impact and trauma of losing their stable family home.
Certainly the children are a hot topic in divorce proceedings but rarely is that topic – “How can I help my children get through this?”. Instead the topic is usually – “How can I make sure that son of a ***** never gets to see the children again”, or “I’m going to take the children away from you and make sure you have little to do with them”.
The children become the instrument of manipulation and harm. The children become the football to be bounced between their parents. The children become the messengers who are used to pass messages back and forth about financial issues, support obligations, activity expenses or consents, property distribution, scheduling, education and whatever else comes to mind. They are drawn into the battle and they are the ones who emerge with the most serious, long term wounds.
There is not much that we lawyers can do to convince our clients that their behaviour will have long term negative effects on their children. That is always because it is never their fault. It is the fault of their spouse who is making the children a part of the battle. We can lecture and we can plead but it usually falls on ears that choose to rationalize and ignore our advice.
At the end of the day the children emerge from the divorce with permanent scars, long lasting insecurities, relationship issues and trust issues.
What can you do? As soon as you separate find yourself a child centred therapist and start taking your children for regular sessions. Adamantly and absolutely refuse to respond to any message passed through your children. Accept some responsibility for what is happening to your children. It can never be only the result of your spouse’s behaviour alone. Ask your lawyer to get involved in the quest to insulate your children from the fallout. Believe me, your lawyer can help if you will allow it.
Steven M. Bookman, LL.B., Ph.D. is a family law lawyer with offices at Yonge & Davisville in Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected] or by telephone at 416-488-2243. www.bookmanlaw.com