Archive for March 11th, 2011

March 11, 2011

Easing the impact of divorce on children….

by Rod Smith

Pain is an inevitable result of almost all divorce and hardly anyone in a family escapes it. The enduring stress, the separation period preceding the divorce, the event itself, and the process of adjustment, all impact family members.

When divorce is regarded as a process, and not an event, the impact is likely to be somewhat eased.

Out of the ruins of a broken marriage people do not easily embrace such principles. These are goals to work toward. Doing so is likely to ease the impact of divorce upon the children.

It is worthwhile noting that remaining (unhappily) married is often easier than becoming (happily) divorced.

Assuming no violence has occurred, the following attitudes expressed by the adults will allow for the best outcome when two adults divorce :

1. We will discuss the divorce with you, together, on a regular basis.
2. We are divorced but remain your parents.
3. It is our divorce, not yours. The implications affect everybody, but it remains our divorce.
4. We were once happy as husband and wife and you were born out of our love. We found parenting to be rich and rewarding. (Ignore if not true).
5. We will always help and protect you and cooperate with each other concerning you.
6. You have done nothing to cause our divorce and nothing you do will restore our marriage.
7. We will not destroy each other (verbally or in any manner) but will rather choose to honor and respect each other.
8. We will not use you as a go-between your parents, or as the rope in a tug-of-war, or as a commodity for child-support.
9. When you face inevitable choices, we will clearly communicate with you about your options. When this is impossible, we will tell you why it is impossible.
10. When choices cannot be made easier we will do all we can to make them clearer. We will honor and hear your voice in all choices pertaining to you and when and if it impossible to do so, we will let you know why. Hearing you (and each other) does not mean agreeing or giving you what you want. Divorce makes some things beyond the control of even the most loving and reasonable and powerful people.
11. We will support each others’ values and rules and will try to establish a similar atmosphere in each home.
12. We both want you to do well in life. Our failure at marriage does not mean you will fail at life.
13. We cannot predict the future, but we will both talk about it with you as we see it developing. You will have as much information as possible about your family and about yourself.
14. You will have as much power over your life as is age appropriate. Sometimes the divorce will feel more powerful than each of us alone and all of us together.
15. You will be able to visit both extended families. Your extended family will be as helpful to you about our divorce as we are. They are also committed to speaking only well of each of your parents. (Ignore if untrue. Let this be a goal).
16. You have permission to embrace any person each parent might include in his or her life. Accepting and loving a stepparent will not be regarded as disloyalty. You might even choose to call that person mother or father without our resistance.
17. All the adults (step and biological parents) will regularly meet to discuss matters relating to you.
18. We will try to lessen the amount of travel between homes so that you might be as settled as possible.
19. Failure at any venture on your part is not because of the divorce. Many people have had divorced parents and have made successes of their lives.

(One person commented: “If I we could have done all that we’d still be married.” I repeat, these are goals, broad ideas for which to strive to make into a reality.)

March 11, 2011

Will you please pay for my child’s third pregnancy?

by Rod Smith

Dear Rod!

Your columns are usually so helpful, but today’s one gives me an idea. You seem to think that ‘unplanned pregnancies’ should not be terminated and that it is OK for someone to ‘go it alone’. I won’t even say what I think of that but will seriously make my request.

Please will you take over the financing of the third pregnancy of my ‘host child from Child Welfare’? I paid for her schooling and she fell pregnant and had complications, including blood pressure and hypersalivation, that prevented her from attending school. We were just thinking of sending her back to school when she fell pregnant again. Now I have had her working at a crèche where she got free meals and schooling for her pigeon pair, and I have just supplemented her income as she and her children need many hospital visits etc. She has given up work because of this latest pregnancy. She has been told to accept that in her culture the men will run around and have many girlfriends and children. The new boyfriend says his granny will take over the baby once it is born if it can be proved to be his. So all you might have to do in six months time is get the DNA tests done, or else you might have to carry on paying for this child as well as the other two. In the meantime she is very expensive as she and the children do not eat porridge (it makes them sick) or drink soup as it gives them diarrhoea! The children are very upset about having to stop attending the creche.

The school to which she wants to send them is the one featured in our papers as having 150 children in one classroom, and she will need you to pay for them, as well as make up to her for the income she has lost by being too sick to go to work. And there are the dental extractions she needs that the hospital apparently refuses to do, so you will have to pay privately. Soon the daughter will be old enough to join the other girls sitting dozing at the desks and puking in the playground before producing more unplanned pregnancies. Just the thought of it makes me realise I can’t afford this pregnancy and hope that you can.