A Child’s “Best Divorce Ever”

The “Best Divorce Ever”…from a Child’s Perspective

With the divorce rate hovering between 40 and 50 percent of marriages—and higher among second and third marriages—you may find you have a lot of competition for having “the best divorce”. Still it’s an intangible many divorcing couples, especially those with kids, aspire to. But what exactly is a “good divorce”?

For some, a good divorce is getting everything you want in the settlement. For others, it’s not having to see your ex anymore. For still others, it’s being able to text at will and continuing an emotionally intimate relationship with your ex. That may work for the divorcing adults. But what’s really best for the child?

I recently sat down with Julie Ross, founder and Executive Director of Parenting Horizons, an organization devoted to enriching children’s lives through parent and teacher education. She is a psychologist and author of a number of books including Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex.

Whose Point of View?

She says that it’s important to consider the split from the child’s point of view. The whole situation can start with good intentions. The parents may have operated as a team as parents during their marriage. But as they inevitably get distance from that, and as their child grows up, those intentions may not be enough to sustain good parenting. In fact, at some point, you may begin to parent very differently from your ex. Blame and finger-pointing almost inevitably follows. What may have begun with good intentions very naturally spirals out of control. And what might have been an amicable split can become acrimonious.

Create a Plan. And Stick to It

Ross suggests you devise a plan with your ex. This “parenting plan” should be separate from your own interpersonal plans for life and interactions post-divorce. She suggests regular meetings about parenting, leaving the finances and personal arguments out of it. Ross suggests viewing the relationship more like a business partnership as opposed to a personal relationship. This may seem difficult, but it may actually be a relief to park the frustration, acrimony, bitterness and resentment and simply talk about the best part of your union—your child!

Blind Spot: Our “Attribution Error”

An “attribution error” is judging ourselves based on our own intention, no matter what the results. So, in this case, we believe that as long as we intend to do something for the children, or because, in general, we believe that we’re “good people”. But if what we’re doing is actually damaging the child, then, really, our intentions don’t matter.

The important thing to remember is that this is your child’s one and only childhood. Pettiness, anger, resentment and bitterness will all leave a stain on that memory. So consider doing what might feel like the hard thing.

If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.