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Residential Arrangement May Equal A Loss Of Relationship In The Long Run
As soon as the argument over the kids becomes about the 50/50 residential care arrangement, the writing is on the wall that at least one of the parents has lost sight of the best interest of their children.
These kind of fights tend to take on epic proportion and the next issue to be determined becomes who can baby-sit when one or other parent is unavailable because typically neither parent can be available 100% of their 50% of the time with whatever schedule is determined.
Thus these kids grow up in a situation of constant conflict and animosity between the parents. To understand the effect of this, think of your child as a bucket of white paint, clean and pure. Think of the parental conflict as black paint. With every parental fight, a drop of the black paint falls into the bucket of white paint. Try removing the black paint once mixed in. Impossible.
Over time, as more drops of black paint are added, your child, who was once pure like the white bucket of paint, becomes grayed with the luster removed.
When constructing parenting plans, the parental goal must be on a meaningful relationship with their children while being mindful of the demands of work-life and any other time constraints. By developing a parenting plan that is in this sense more rationale, the conflict is removed and the child is spared the discolouration from the tortuous ongoing drops of conflict.
Children who grow up between their parents’ animosity and conflict live for the day when they can leave home to escape the constant dropping of black paint into their lives. They grow weary and angry with their parents and will naturally seek to ultimately get away from them both. Hence a parent may win the 50/50 battle of time with their child, but lose the lifetime relationship when their child becomes an adult in their own right. Your child’s time on earth will be spent more as an adult than as a child. As you lament not having enough time with your son or daughter as a child, think how this can be worsened by losing your time with them as an adult, not to mention your time with your potential grandchildren.
The key here then is not to fight for 50/50 time with the kids, but the kind of sharing of care that allows for a meaningful relationship with the kids. This kind of meaningfulness is measured by supporting school and extra-curricular activities, attending important functions of the child and having some recreational activity time for the mere fun of being together. Meaningful to the child also means freedom from parental conflict and animosity.
The best you can wish for is a 100% relationship with your children with whatever time is available. Any time put towards fighting and you are undermining what you already have.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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