Much as we love our children, it’s an exhausting job (and a very public one…a fact that most two-year-olds will use to their advantage when they see a treat they want)! Now try parenting through a divorce and then after as a single parent, sharing responsibility for your children with someone you may not really respect or even like anymore. The hardest job in the world just got harder and our divorce system is partially to blame for the fallout.
The blame game
You've likely overheard this and cringed...
While shopping, an anxious child pleads: "Dad, but I need it for school!" He shoots back, venting his aggravation: "I give your mother plenty of money to take care of those expenses. Ask her about it."
Or the teenage girl appealing to her mother: "Mom, I can't go to school in these old jeans." In this case, her mother's frustration must no doubt be at a breaking point to angrily respond: "If your dad would pay me the money he owes me, I could buy you new ones. But no, he's too caught up in his own life."
It's painful to even read. Because the truth is, as parents of the world, we are only human. As such, if you're the one venting and aggravated, cut yourself some slack. Accept that you will make mistakes along the way, but for your children's sake, let's do what we can to end the parental tug-of-war and vicious spiral of blame and anger.
How to end (or at least lessen) the war
Our divorce system has historically been a battleground where husbands and wives are opponents. Win or lose are the only outcomes. That said, if you can turn your sights to win-win, your children stand a better chance of having two parents who are able to heal and move on in a positive way.
Beyond the obvious emotional benefits, the financial ones are equally clear. When you divorce, there's only so much of everything - including assets, income, and time with the children - to go around. Paying thousands of dollars in legal costs, not to mention months and years of fighting, makes the whole family suffer emotionally and financially.
Let's collaborate, not combat
The good news is that there is a growing movement towards a more collaborative divorce process. Within this realm, parents work as a team with their individual lawyers, a financial 'neutral' advisor and, if the situation is still too emotionally charged, a family therapist to negotiate a solution with respect to the couple's future childcare and financial plans.
If money was just about numbers, the job of a financial advisor would be easy, but almost every one of us has some very strong emotional issues tied to our finances that need to be understood and addressed. If not, we risk setting off those hot buttons that can escalate distrust and animosity and unwind any progress towards a child and family-centered divorce or separation solution.
Understanding that everyone has needs to be met and talking openly about compromises and solutions is hard to do, especially when we're hurting, so finding a process that keeps you and your former partner on the right track is incredibly important.
You can EX your husband from your personal life but you can't EX him from your children's. And while you may not believe it right now, some special day in the future you might just find yourselves standing beside each other amicably. Yes, just imagine your child's wedding photographer catching you both exchange a smile of pride at a job well done.
In a word - priceless!
This article was provided with permission from the writing and expertise of Anna-Marie Lyons, B.A., M.B.A., FCSI. Anna-Marie is a certified divorce financial analyst and works as a financial planning consultant at RBC Wealth Management in Vancouver, B.C. You can e-mail her at email@example.com or visit her web page at http://dir.rbcinvestments.com/scott.murray/page_54483.