DRAFT Divorce Kids Children

Note: Rather than write the phrase “children of separated/divorced parents in separated households” repeatedly, I’ve shortened the phrase to “separated children,” regandless of the number of overnights they spend with each parent (or alternate caregivers like grandpraents/foster parents).

Parental friendship — or at minimum, adult respect — is healthy for children.

Said another way: separated children should have the closest set of friends, regardless of the current parent with them, as opposed to having two+ totally different sets of social contacts.

In these matters, we should prioritize the children. In my situation, for example, I live in the same neighborhood as the school, and we are open to do many things locally, including occasional short overnight trips nearby. For example, one reason I purchased several memberships to local museums/activity spaces/indoor playgrounds/etc. was to support our children’s stability and consistency of activities, regardless of which parent they’re with. Ideally, this, too, would maintain the same social connections, like with his classmates. Two neighborhoods/houses for young children, split 50/50 or otherwise, is already negative enough for their lives.

Of course, that last argument is complex and debatable, and depends on the situation the family was leaving when it separated.

Therefore — other friends/family are encouraged to spend time with our children with either parent, but please don’t isolate one of us if our children really enjoy each other’s company. You may not particularly like one of us, but the estrangement and isolation of an adult can be damaging to anyone of any age, including his/her child! To me, the very idea of estrangement is actually un-American.

If you’re uncomfortable about anything, it’s better to start a difficult conversation with (hopefully) minimal confrontation, rather than let things bubble up and ignore them.

Here’s the bigger picture, regarding the concept of familial reconciliation: children usually have hope, as do I for my current situation. Hope vs “false” hope for a child in this situation is proving to be a very interesting philosophical debate: when is “hope” false? When people think I may be exuding “false” hope — rarely by my spoken words, but always by my internal sense of hope for the future — I simply ask people about climate change. I have hope that our civilization work against the ravages of climate change! We may go through some very dark decades this century (figuratively or even literally!), but regardless of the timeline, I do have hope. Is that a false hope? Who can define that phrase? Over 10% of families in these situations reconcile, which is a small number, but it’s significant enough that I don’t think reflecting a child’s natural hope on rare occasion is false. Again, it’s a topic I’m happy to discuss in person!

To close, again, let’s prioritize the child and stability of social contacts. Don’t isolate the child from one parent, spending time with them only with your preferred parent. Aim to maintain the same friends, regardless of which parent the child is with. Stability is key.