“I Wish My Parents Would Just Be Friends” – Is It Really So Hard?
“I Wish My Parents Would Just Be Friends” –
Is It Really So Hard?
By Jeff Zimmerman, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
Beacon Behavioral Services, LLC
In many divorces the end of one’s relationship as spouses also signals the end
of one’s relationship as parents. Children are caught in loyalty conflicts as
they love two people (their parents) who are enemies of one another. This causes
the children to feel anxious, depressed, and/or angry. It can cause them to keep
secrets from one or both parents and in more severe circumstances cause them to
feel like they have to “pick a side” and align with one parent so at least they
are not caught in the middle. In our offices, children will often tell us that
while they understand their parents will not get back together, “I wish my
parents would just be friends.”
Parents often tell us how while they themselves are willing to get along with
the other parent, it is the other parent’s fault that the relationship is not
better. They will give us countless examples of how they have been hurt before,
how the other parent clearly isn’t willing, and of how they have been told the
other parent is “toxic” and they should have as little to do with them as
possible. In short, they say, “It’s just too hard and it just won’t work.” But,
is it really to hard? Maybe it just can work.
One night a divorced mom took her first grader to see her third grader’s school
play. She got to the auditorium early and found some seats up front. As she was
sitting down, she said to her first grader, “Do you think daddy would like to
sit here up front?” She knew from past experience that dad would show up at the
last minute, just before the play started. Her first grader beamed with delight
and mom had him save the aisle seat. He, of course, turned backwards in the
second seat in the row and kept a keen eye out for dad who did arrive moments
before the show was to start. Dad came down to say hello when the child waved to
him and mom said, “We were wondering if you’d like to sit here and watch the
play.” To which dad simply said, “Sure, that’ll be great.”
The play began and the third grader (who was a wonderful tree in the show) saw
his parents and brother together up front. At the end of the show he came off
the stage and received his hugs and congratulations together from both parents
(not worrying about somehow getting to both parents spread out across a crowded
auditorium). As the family left the school, the third grader was holding both
mom’s and dad’s hands, looked up and said, “I’m so glad you guys are friends
Mom and dad were deeply touched by the impression such a small easy gesture had
on their children. It did not require a resolution of all of the marital hurt.
It did not require them to socialize together, trust each other, or get back
together. It only took a moment and the awareness to treat each other in the
same fashion they might treat a social acquaintance. Or said another way, it
only took the recognition that the school play was about their child and that
they were each there as a parent, not as an ex.
It’s really not so hard and yes it can work. Think of all the times and the
small ways you can show your child that you respect their love for their other
parent by interacting in a positive and civil fashion, there-by keeping the
divorce from always being the dominant factor in every moment. In the family
above, mom and dad acted in a way that kept the divorce out of the auditorium.
You can too.
DivorceInteractive.com tries to provide
quality information, but cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness or adequacy
of the information, opinions or other content posted on the site. It is not
intended as a substitute for and should not be relied upon as legal, financial,
accounting, tax, medical or other professional advice. It should not be
construed as establishing a professional-client or professional-patient
relationship. The applicability of legal principles is subject to amendment by
the legislature, interpretation by the courts and different application by
different judges and may differ substantially in individual situations or
different states. Before acting on what you have read, it is important to obtain
appropriate professional advice about your particular situation and facts.
Access to and use of DivorceInteractive.com is subject to additional
Terms and Conditions. DivorceInteractive.com
is a secure site and respects your Privacy.
Advertise With Us |
Professional & Resource Directory
Divorce News | Glossary | Divorce Discussion Forums
DivorceInteractive.com All Rights Reserved.