“Best interests of the children”. If you are involved, in any capacity, in a divorce or custody proceeding with children, then you have likely heard that phrase more times than you can count, yet interestingly, in so many instances, it is less and less about the children, and more and more about…what?
Ego? Spite? Revenge?
It’s as if one parent, realizing the value of the kids to the other parent, sharpens the knife and selects the kids as arrows, weapons, game pieces. In order to use the kids this way, the manipulative parent, at least to him or herself, transforms the kids from human beings into things.
Trouble is, the game wouldn’t work if the other parent didn’t love and care for the children, so the kids being tossed about and flung like darts is exceptionally painful to watch. And no matter how agonizing it is to watch, it is exponentially worse for the kids to be batted about by someone supposed to love and protect them.
As many of my readers know too well, it is also painful for step-parents to witness this treatment of the children as well. This article, Step-Parents: Dealing with a Bitter Ex-Wife, by Rosalie Brown, is valuable in its focus on not allowing the deplorable behavior and decisions of the ex to erode your current relationship.
Ms. Brown writes: “I could write a book about all the nasty things our ex did, said, antics, times she was awarded more than half my ex-husband’s salary, times she kept the kids from us (more than 1 year without seeing their father), but in the end…I focused my entire marriage on this woman, and the kids suffered greatly, my ex suffered greatly, and we became roommates who were focused on protecting ourselves against this crazy person and she become the focus of our lives.”
I know this sounds dangerously familiar to many of my readers! It is difficult to not get sucked into the toilet drain of life with a crazy ex running loose, but the most powerful lesson I have learned is to take command of your relationship and keep that relationship about you two, your love, your life with each other. In the end, the crazy ex really doesn’t deserve your attention.
But the kids do. Ms. Brown adds, ” But when you are with the children, put on your emotional armour and be the best step parent you can be. In the end your relationship with your partner has better odds of staying intact, and the children may someday love, like and respect you because you didn’t focus on conflict, but on making them feel welcome and loved in their blended family environment.”
Especially in a hostile, war-torn environment where the kids are used as cannon fodder by the ex, the children need and deserve the acceptance, peace, love, and normalcy in your home that they aren’t getting with the ex, and likely never will.
I wish, for the kids, that “best interests of the children” was more than a worn-out, cute phrase to bounce around in a courtroom to appear well-meaning to the judge. If it was really about the kids, no one would stand for them being used as weapons, least of all…their own parents.