www.la-familylaw.com
New York Times: Private Marriage
Welcome to California: why wealthy spouses often seek out other jurisdictions

Kids keeping the peace when parents divorce

This article from moms logic


Today's New York Daily News has a headline that screams Madge's Lourdes Works a Miracle. No, Madonna's teenage daughter isn't healing the sick or parting the seas. According to the paper, what Lourdes has done is even more miraculous -- she's managed to make peace between divorcing duo Madonna and Guy Ritchie.

A source tells the paper that 14-year-old Lourdes came the couple begging, "Please don't be mean to each other." The teen told her mom and Guy that she wanted everything to be as friendly as possible. According to the source, Guy and Madonna have buried the hatchet and are making every effort to make things as civil as possible for the sake of the kids.

The fact that teenage Lourdes is managing to do what even divorce lawyers can't is a definite sign of the times, according to psychologist Cooper Lawrence. Cooper, author of "The Cult of Celebrity" tells momlogic, "It's different now than when we were kids. The way they parented us is different from the way parents raise kids today. Today, kids are involved in every family decision from what car are we going to buy to what kind of dog are we going to get. You can't have it both ways -- you can't expect the child to be involved in family decisions and then all of a sudden make a life-changing decision and expect the child to have no say."

Cooper also adds that watching Lourdes take an active role in her parents' divorce sends a powerful message to other children of divorce. "Lourdes is a little girl who grew up with the paparazzi as part of her public life. She has a public image and it matters what she says and does. When she says be nice to one another it sends a different message, it's influential to other kids."

But even so, Cooper cautions about having children act as peace keepers in their parents divorce. She asks parents to be careful about their behavior and warns that children should never be put in a situation where they feel they need to step in to keep the peace. "The children have nothing to do with the divorce. When you put the kid in the middle you're screwing up your kid. It's cruel. Children learn from your behavior and how you treat people."

As a rule, Cooper tells momlogic that parents need to keep the arguments to themselves; no child should have to hear you badmouth, fight or yell at each other. "Some kids take this stuff personally. You don't want the kids to somehow think that the divorce is their fault -- and even if you say that it's not, if you continually bad mouth your ex to the child, you're sending the message that somehow the child is involved."

And above all, remember, although you want to be your child's friend, you are first and foremost a parent. Don't use this as an opportunity to talk about what went wrong in your relationship, that's not a conversation any parents should have with a child. Cooper explains, "Don't talk to the kids about the divorce except for conversations about their own feelings. You have to reassure them that it's going to be ok. Mommy and daddy might not love each other any more but we both love you."

Los Angeles Family Law