It’s a sad comment on our times that the divorce rate keeps going up in the US and Europe. Our society seems to have accepted that marriage is not necessarily for ever. Ten years of being married is considered a decent spell now. When a couple decide to part, they can walk away from each other and lead separate lives. However, when children are involved, it’s a whole different ball game. Divorced parents have a duty of care to their children.
Children, at whatever age, can be immensely confused when Mum and Dad split. It’s important to make them feel secure and help them to realize that they had nothing to do with the problems that led to the divorce. There is no such thing as a perfectly smooth transition but disruption must be as minimal as possible.
Many child experts are calling for more joint custody decisions, instead of custody going to one parent. This tends to default to the mother and fathers often struggle to get the amount of access they want. Custody battles are horrendous for all concerned. It is difficult but divorced parents must put aside their differences in the interests of the child. Sadly, these conflicts can lead to the father and child losing all contact for years. The father gives up or court hearings drag on for years whilst access is being decided.
It is within the capability of two, intelligent adults to come to a mutual agreement. Assuming that Mum has custody and Dad has visitation rights that often amounts to a day every week or two weeks. We all see these dads with their children, trying to pack everything in to that one day. We see them in the parks and the fast food joints. We don’t see the tears when they have to take them home. Dads miss out on the things most parents take for granted, like reading a bedtime story or giving a bath. Surely divorced parents can be civilized, allowing Dad to stay to read that story and tuck their kids in for the night. Perhaps he could stay till his child falls asleep. Better still would be an overnight stay at Dad’s place.
Of course, second marriages and stepparents make for more complications. This should not interfere with the visiting rights of divorced parents. The child has not been given a divorce and needs patient love and support from both parents. No one sets out for a marriage to end, but if it does, the priority must be the welfare of the children.