Thoughtful Parenting: Divorce — child’s perspective | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: Divorce — child’s perspective

Chris Young/For Steamboat Today

Thoughtful Parenting First Impressions

Just so you know, this story isn't totally true or untrue. It's a made-up account of divorce as seen through the eyes of many children.

Suggested resources

Books:

• "Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making two homes for your child"

• "Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce"

• "The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive"

Skills:

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• Parent information classes offered through the 14th Judicial District.

Therapy:

steamboatcounseling.com.

When I was 5 years old, my parents told me they were getting a divorce. At first, I thought it was a good thing, because they wouldn't be arguing any more. Then, I wondered if it was my fault that they were arguing, because they didn't agree on rules for me.

I felt sad. I'd always lived in the same home with my parents. Suddenly, my dad didn't live in the house anymore. He had a different house. Mom had to get a smaller house, because she didn't have enough money to stay in our old house. The good thing was that their houses were pretty close together, so I could play with my friends and go to the same school,

Even though I was living with my mom, I saw my dad from time to time. I heard some stuff about court and lawyers and judges, but it was confusing to me. After my parents went to court, I was told I'd be spending a week at my mom's house and a week at my dad's house. My parents said this was fair, because they were both my parents.

After going back and forth from Dad's house to Mom's house, I began to feel like I had no real home. I had trouble knowing where my stuff for school and sports was. It seemed like I had to make all the changes, even though I hadn't divorced my parents. Why couldn't they let me stay in one house and they move in and out for a week at a time?

No one asked me if my mom or dad spent more time with me before the divorce. No one asked me how I felt toward each of them and how much I trusted each of my parents. No one asked me if I'd feel better living more with my mom or my dad. No one asked me if I even felt safe. The judge decided how and where I would live for the rest of my childhood.

Looking back on my experience from an adult perspective, I believe that everyone thought they were doing what was right. The notion of "the best interests of the child" is something judges consider when they decide with whom and for how long a child should live when parents get divorced. In court, most of the time, the parents have attorneys who represent each parent's interests. There's usually no one representing the best interests of the child.

Children who are bounced from home to home have no true home. While it's true that children benefit from having both parents in their lives, it's also true that children have a different relationship with each parent. Regardless of whether a parent is a dad or a mom, some parents are healthier for children to be with than other parents.

Judges have an almost impossible task of knowing what's best for children, based on what is said in court. Divorcing parents have an obligation to look beyond their hurt and anger and honestly take into account what is in their child's best interests. Shared custody, or 50-50 parenting time, is not the best arrangement for all children.

Chris Young, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice, specializing in children and families. For more information, visit her website at mdyphd.com. She can be reached at 970-879-3032.

Suggested resources

Books:

• “Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making two homes for your child”

• “Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce”

• “The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive”

Skills:

• Parent information classes offered through the 14th Judicial District.

Therapy:

steamboatcounseling.com.