“I just really, truly believe that you must love our children more than you hate your ex. And I think this shows Wolfie that just because Mom and Dad don’t live together any longer that we can still get along.”1 Valerie Bertinelli shared this on “The View” back in 2011.
Four years later Gwyneth Paltrow was quoted on her ex, “‘Even though today, you hate me and you never want to see me again, like, we’re going to brunch, ’cause it’s Sunday and that’s what we’ll do!’…The children are our commitment.”2
Protecting the kids from the impact of the divorce is a growing international concern. A recent “Times of India” article suggested parents “consider co-parenting” without divorcing. The spouses get to lead separate lives with no accountability to each other except in matters involving the kids. According to the author, this arrangement will, “wipe out all the negativity that divorce brings along since children of divorce tend to be pessimistic about relationships.”3
Its admirable divorcing parents want to minimize the effects of their divorce, but is being with two people who hate each other “good for the kids”? Unfortunately, these are not the type of questions being asked.
In the quest for the “good divorce,” courts, counselors, and politicians are seeking how to keep divorced parents together just enough that their kids aren’t affected by their split. According to TIME magazine, “about 20 states are debating changes in custody laws to encourage shared parenting.”4
Again, I applaud efforts to minimize the short and long-term negative impact of parental divorce. But I fear the pendulum has swung too far because we’re asking the wrong questions to the wrong people.
The right questions are:
- Are children’s fantasies of their mom and dad getting back together reinforced by shared parenting?
- What does two parents pretending to get along teach developing children?
- Can parents fit a size-10 hate into a size-4 pair of jeans that say “getting along for the kids” on the back label?
- How does shared parenting work when one or both remarry?
The right people to ask are adult children of divorce. They’ve been there and will give you the real scoop.
So since the Bible teaches it and the vast majority of research agrees, the best brunch for children is one that includes their natural father and mother—who have strong religious convictions and love for each other.
The majority of divorces today don’t involve adultery, abuse, or systemic neglect. “Unmet needs” is currently the number one reason. However, “unmet needs” and Jesus’ command to “deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Me,”5 can’t coexist. So the time help couples avoid divorce is now.
I vote to stop swinging the dealing-with-post-marriage-effects pendulum from trend to trend, and work harder to stop divorce in the first place.
1Detroit Free Press, 1-23-11
2Michele Zipp, http://thestir.cafemom.com/love_sex/188096/how_gwyneth_paltrow_gets_through
3Srishti Ghosh Shinde, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/parenting/Consider-co-parenting-
4l Susanna Schrobsdorff. The rise of the ‘Good Divorce,’ TIME Magazine, August 3, 2015
Images – Divorce by Tony Guyton; Heart Bible by Honorbound