9/24/2015

Don’t Be a Meanie: A Child’s Perspective of her Divorced Parents Arguing

      Over the weekend, a divorced mother posted a video depicting her six-year-old daughter, Tiana, demanding that her mother and ex-husband “be friends” after Tiana witnessed them arguing.  It's a "must see" for any divorced or separated parent.  Click here to watch the video.

      In the video, Tiana was sitting on the stairs lecturing her mother:

 . . .just try your best, I don’t want you and my dad to be replaced and meanies again. I want you and my dad to be placed and settled and be friends.  I’m not trying to be mean, I just want everyone to be friends.  If I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice too.  I’m not trying to be mean, but I’m trying to do my best in my heart.  Nothing else but that.

Are you ready to be his friends? Just try your best. I think you can do it. I think you can settle your mean heights down to short heights ... I just want everything to be settled down, nothing else. For everything to be as good as possible. Nothing else.

My heart is something.  Everyone else’s heart is something too.  If we live in a world where everyone is being mean then everyone is going to be a monster in the future.

I’m not trying to be mean. I just want all of us to be friends, and if I can be nice I think all of us can be nice too.

      Tiana is one of thousands of children whose parents have either separated or divorced and struggle to co-parent.  In the mind of a child, parents are “meanies” and “monsters” when they argue.  This is an issue many divorcing or separating parents experience.  This video is a good reminder to parents that they aren’t the only ones being affected by the divorce or separation.  Children, be they toddlers or teenagers, are very aware of their surroundings and the tensions from their parents.  In fact, they are just as affected, if not more so, by the divorce than you are. 

      Here are some tips to help divorced or separated parents co-parent:

1.     First and foremost, parents should always act in the best interest of their children.  Remember, your children love both their mother and their father.  They do not want to be put in the position where they have to choose sides. 

2.     Respect your ex’s relationship with the children and do not attempt to interfere with your ex’s parenting time.  The children need and want to have a relationship with both parents.

3.     Do not discuss the divorce or reasons for the separation with the children. 

4.     Never bad mouth the other parent in the presence of the children or within earshot of the children.  If your ex-spouse has a significant other, do not bad mouth him/her in the children’s presence either.

5.     Never use your child as a messenger or as a “spy” to gain information about your ex.

6.     Try to make all communications with your ex courteous and respectful. 

      These are just a few tips that may help you navigate the unfamiliar waters of learning to co-parent after a divorce or separation.  If you are looking for more tips or reading materials, upon request, we provide courtesy copies of books to our clients on co-parenting, divorce and books for children on how to handle their parents’ divorce.

Blog authored by Michelle Levin, Esq.