Cherish Your Kids above all else, even in Divorce and Family Crisis

By Dugan P. Kelley

I was traveling home from a little league game with my 11 year-old.  It was late for my son to be out.  He was riding in the passenger seat of my car on the way home, and I was struck by the suddenness of time fleeing by.  It feels like in the blink of any eye, my wife and I were taking him home from the hospital, putting him in a backward facing car seat in the back seat, putting him in a frontward car seat in the back seat, putting him a booster seat, having no booster seat, and now he was riding in the passenger seat of my car.  In no time, my son will be driving and I will be riding in the passenger seat.  Time is fleeting.  James 4:14 says “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  We never know how much time the Lord will give us, and while we are here, we owe our children to savor every moment we have with them.

Cherish Your Children More than the Fight:

It is so tempting in the midst of the profound suffering of a divorce or custody case to fight your opponent.  The Courts will provide you with ample opportunities to fight your ex-spouse.  You can fight in temporary orders, temporary restraining orders, trial, mediation, discovery, and related matters.  In fact, there are opportunities at every juncture to fight your ex-spouse.  Unfortunately, that fighting will wreak havoc on the hearts of your children.  A recent study I read indicated that exposure to aggression between parents can interfere with a child’s ability to regulate their emotions.”  Sounds like common sense, right?  Please think about the consequences that prolonged fighting with your spouse will have.  Try to cherish your children more than the fight with your ex-spouse.

Cherish Your Children More than Stuff:

In contested divorce cases and custody cases, there is almost always a pinch point when we are negotiating community property disposition or whether an item of property is community property or separate property.  This is another opportunity to dig in and really fight for what you know is the right decision.  Or, might I suggest another approach – place the priority on maintaining or enhancing your relationship with your children over and above any particular item of community property or separate property.  Setting aside the fact that most items of community property are highly costly, there is an impact that is felt by your children as well.  Don’t forget that children don’t understand why they have to move, the impact on their lives (shuttling back and forth, in many cases to two completely new homes), or the fighting about property items.  Remember, in most cases, children have been told their entire lives how precious they are and how meaningless property/items are.  What message does it send to the children in divorce and custody case, where the focus shifts to fighting about things…

Cherish Your Children More than Your Own Suffering:

Possibly the most challenging aspect of any divorce is the harsh reality that human pain and suffering is present at almost every point of the divorce case or custody case.  In many cases, the suffering you experience is palpable.  You feel it all day every day, and in nasty cases where you have felt betrayal or hatred rising up for the injustice you have felt from your ex-spouse, those around you, or even the Court, it is understandable to be focused on those feelings.  Unfortunately, many of the silent victims in this scenario also include our kids.  They can (and do) feel our stresses.  You can with deliberate action, counseling, or venting to a friend (where your children are not present) stem the blow-back of your own suffering onto your children.  Remember, they are innocent in this case.  Isolate them from any of the fighting as best you can.

Time is Fleeting:

At some point, your divorce or custody case will be a memory.  However, your children will be with you for life.  Their lives immediately should become your priority in that relationship.  This means that your suffering, your property, or your desires to have your say must be secondary to protecting and cherishing your children.  You never know how much time you have with your children.  Before you know it, your children will be driving you and you will be riding in the back seat – this is one of the circles of life.  If you need help with your divorce, custody case, or family law matter, please call Kelley Clarke PC.  We will be happy to meet with you, pray with you, and see if we can help you.