I’ve talked to many children whose parents are going through divorce. I often serve as a guardian ad litem for children – a cross between an attorney for the children and an arm of the court charged with the task of investigating a divorce matter in order to make recommendations to the judge regarding custody and visitation. In the 22 years I have served in this capacity, I have found three commonalities amongst the cases I’ve worked.
First, most children want their parents to stay together. They don’t care that the parents don’t like each other. They want their world, their sense of security, to stay intact. Yes, I know there are exceptions. I, personally, encountered very few.
Second, if they can’t have things stay as they are, they want their parents to be civil to each other. They want their parents to be civil about each other. They do not want to be put in the middle. They do not want to have to choose sides. Again, there are exceptions. I have found that most of the exceptions – a child wanting to choose a side – result from either the child witnessing/being a target of mistreatment by one parent or (much more often) a parent poisoning the child against the other.
Third, the first two truisms transcend gender and age of the children.
Want to hear a child’s perspective? Take two and a half minutes and watch this video – hear a “Dear Mom and Dad” letter represented to be written by a child whose parents were going through a divorce. I can’t verify that it was actually written by such a child, but I can verify it’s a message I have heard over and over again through the words and actions of children I have represented.
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