When choosing your battles bear in mind: Immediate outcomes are far less important than the ultimate impact on the children. Does it really matter in the long run who gets Tuesday parenting time and who gets Thursday; who has more overnights and who gets more vacation time? Ultimately what matters most are that the children know their parents love them enough to “work things out” on their behalf. As the children get older they will decide whom to let into their lives and to what extent. Take a moment to reflect on how your current decisions will be viewed ten years down the line and how they will affect your relationship with your child. Would forcing your child to miss his best friend’s birthday party because that would mean sacrificing an afternoon of parenting time be beneficial to your relationship with that child, or would it ultimately be a stain on the relationship? Would being flexible regarding pick up times and drop off times really mess up your entire schedule, or is this something worth compromising on in order to keep the peace?
Obviously, if there were true reasons to believe that the children would be in danger, that is another story. However, what I have observed is that in most cases the fighting has more to do with a parent’s need to control the situation rather than protection of the minor children. Certainly if a parent is being kept from playing an active and positive role in his or her child’s life, often a third party needs to assist with mediation so that the children’s lives can be enriched by both parents. Having been on the roller coaster ride known as family court for years, due to many issues related to the custody of my children and stepchildren, I feel I have a different prospective – especially now that the ride has slowed and I can better reflect on the experience. My humble advice and my heartfelt appeal to all families going through the difficult turbulent transition of divorce and/or blending families is to try and focus on that original goal: shalom bayit.
Shalom bayit, a happy and peaceful home is not a lost dream; it can still be a legacy you pass along to your children – even if your marriage did not work out. You can give your children the priceless gift of living harmoniously – even if it is done in two separate homes.
Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.