Mother's day is around the corner. For too many children whose families are restructuring all they want for the day to be happy is their father. They want their dream back. They want to be able to love both parents equally without guilt. We owe it to our children to put their rights, their best interests first.
As Barbara Kay wrote there is "persuasive evidence showing that the single most important 'interest' of children is to continue to love and to be loved by both their parents. Relationships cannot flourish without significant time in each other's presence." Sadly, according to sociologist Paul Millar who analysed the Central Divorce Registry, mothers are 27 times as likely as fathers to obtain sole custody of the children.
Children lose because too often fear of change from the upheaval of divorce turns to anger by one or both parents. About 30 years ago I was listening to two friends, female doctors: one a GP and the other a psychiatrist discussing the effects of divorce on their female patients. The psychiatrist said she'd felt great empathy for her patients and hurt for them. Then she found herself going through her own divorce and said that for all that she had felt for her patients, she had no idea how terrible it was to go through the process. The hurt and anger she felt. The GP pointed out many of her female patients going through divorce spoke to her about wanting their husbands dead. How much better it sounds to say I am a widow than to say I am a divorcée. At least it was back then. She recommended a book that spoke to those feelings. A book? Can you imagine the number of women who'd expressed that wish for there to be a book?
Shocked? Don't be. I recently spoke to another woman who was so distraught, so anxious and fearful of divorce that she'd wished her husband, who flew for business, would be in a plane crash. Then she felt terrible right away. The guilt and shame -- how unfair to wish a plane crash with innocents dying because she could not bear the divorce process.
And then comes the remorse for wishing the death of the spouse. Yes, it might get rid of your problem but that means wishing a whole set of problems and pain on your children-mourning a father whom they still love and need and want.
For many men and women, divorce triggers a sense of shame and guilt from failure and then fear of the unknown. That fear is come by honestly-genetically, from the days in the cave. We are the ancestors of those who respected fear of the unknown. Back then if you didn't listen to that instinctual fear coming from your soul, you could be dinner. Fear, anxiety, anger keep us alive.
The three emotions live together in the deepest and oldest part of our brain; the amygdala, the reptilian brain. Imagine feeling imprisoned in a marriage -- like an animal caught in a trap. First there's fear. Then anger, which is needed to increase adrenalin and start the fight-for-life process. In divorce, feeling trapped can do the same thing. Anger develops and you reach for the closest weapon to defend yourself. Too often that weapon is the children. They become the pawns in a battle that gets out of hand between two adults.
Brian Ludmer, a co-founder of the group Lawyers for Shared Parenting (L4SP) asks "Why do this to children who are used to seeing both of their parents every day?"
That is the question to ask yourself this Mother's Day, while you look at those beautiful children. In Hebrew the root of the word womb, mercy and compassion are the same; for a reason. Are you ready to let go of the anger, let go of the hurt, and embrace your children's love and need for their father? It would be a beautiful mother's day gift.
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