Divorced Parent Squabbling Can Take Toll On Children
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico

In some, sad divorce cases, when parents continue to quarrel, long after the divorce papers have been signed, the Court is required to appoint a lawyer for the children. That lawyer is called a Guardian ad Litem. That lawyer conducts a thorough investigation and reports to the Court.

In a recent case the Guardian filed a report which seemed to touch the parents when all other efforts had failed. The report should be shared, and I share it, in part, with you:

"In the American culture, parenting is accomplished within a nuclear family, the parents and the children. ...

"The ultimate goal of parenting is the production of an independent, confident adult, able to contribute to his community and, in his turn, to parent.

"Successful parenting is not accomplished without trials and mistakes. Yet this reality of trial and mistakes does not diminish the child's need for consistency, predictability and stability in his life.

"Inherent in their roles as parents the father and mother teach by modeling. A girl will learn how to treat a man by the way she sees her mother treat her father. Also she will learn how to expect to be valued by the way her father values her mother. She will learn how to nurture by the way she is nurtured. A boy will learn the same lessons of treatment of the opposite gender and self-valuation from the interaction between his parents.

"Therefore the relationship between the parents is an integral part of a child's development and maturation. Where the parents respect and value each other's beliefs and opinions, the child will learn respect and value of himself, his parents and others in his life.

"When the parents have opted for divorce acknowledging that their relationship is no longer advantageous or tolerable to them as individuals, they maintain their relationship of parent to child, and their responsibilities and import to the child as role models remain.

"I have spoken to both parents and many others involved in this case.

"Without question, each of these parents has positive attributes as individuals, and each is capable of enriching their child's life. Mother is gregarious, educated, warm and nuturing. She has a lovely relationship with the child. Father is educated, calm, worldly and has a rich cultural background.

"One would expect their volitional contributions to this child's well-being to be as abundant as their personal and economic resources would suggest. Such is NOT the case.

"This child is beautiful, outgoing, intelligent and talented.

BUT SOMETHING IS AWRY: This child should be in the top group where distinctions based on performance are made. This child is not in that group. This child has trouble with reading and is not meeting the tasks of childhood. This child has no friends. This child is very anxious over the cost of everything. This child has no self-confidence. ..."

The Guardian went on to place the responsibility for her young client's troubles squarely on both parents' shoulders. She told them their on-going conflict, their utter disrespect for one another was the cause of their child's failures and pain.

It seemed to sink-in. I hope so. It is a profound description of parental duty and the consequences when that duty is not met. The author is Kathleen Martinez Brandt, Lawyer.



For more Anne Kass articles, go here to select from complete list of 97 articles

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