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Article:   Don't be like McGreeveys - Child's play in divorce leaves kids deeply scarred

By Janet Pfeiffer
Daily Record
December 7, 2007

How tragic that the McGreeveys continue to be at odds with one another and refuse to move beyond their own selfish agendas and focus on just loving their daughter. This most recent appearance before the judge over a birthday party is yet another example of the childish bickering that repeatedly occurs between couples who are divorced. Their refusal to move beyond their own bruised egos and put their child's well-being first is disheartening.

Too often, former couples care more about the image they project to the world than in doing what is best for the child.

They live in denial of the real reasons they do what they do.

For one parent to blatantly disobey a court order of visitation and claim that they are just trying to be a loving parent is absurd.

This is a clear manipulation tactic often used to evoke sympathy from others and to aggravate the other parent.

It is anger being acted out in the most subtle and underhanded manner. It is called passive/aggressive and is disguised to look innocent when in actuality it is controlling and hurtful.

For more than 10 years, I worked with adults who had experienced the breakup of a marriage.

To those who had children, I strongly encouraged them to love their child more than they hated each other. I still stand by those words today. A parent cannot fully love their child if they despise the other because a child is made up of both parents.

If I hate my ex, then in essence I hate that half of my child that is him/her.

Can anything be more hurtful? I need not say this to them directly but it gets reflected in the way I speak to and treat them and the other parent. Every time I disrespect their mother/father, I disrespect them.

Every time I hurt their mother/father, I am hurting them as well. What ever I do to the other, I do to my child.

I think it is ludicrous that a court dictates when a parent can and cannot see their own flesh and blood.

However, this is the nature of divorce. I personally believe that every parent (except in extreme cases) should have easy and frequent access to their child to allow for the healthiest emotional development possible.

How cruel to deny a child physical contact with their parent simply because it is not "their day!"

My husband left me 25 years ago with four small children.

He asked for visitation and was awarded Wednesday nights and every other Sunday afternoon. Nonsense!

I told him he could see his children whenever he wanted (I only asked that he call me first). He respected that and I honored my promise. If he needed more time or to switch days, as long as it was possible (and it was 99.9 percent of the time), we did.

In that respect, we kept things as normal as possible for our children.

To those going through, or already living in divorce, let me offer you some simple suggestions.

For the genuine love of your children:

  • Respect the other parent. Remind yourself of those qualities that you fell in love with initially. They are still present. Remove your anger, bitterness, and hurt and focus on their good points.

  • Remember, that whatever you do to each other (good or bad), you do to your child. Choose good every time. You won't regret it.

  • Admit to the real reasons you are making that particular decision. Are your choices and actions based on revenge, bitterness, anger, hurt, control? Do you get pleasure out of seeing the other person suffer? That's unhealthy and destructive to everyone.

  • Don't try to be the "good" parent. Instead, be the loving parent who cares more about raising a well-adjusted child then who that child will love more.

  • Be the example! Your child will grow up and mimic your behavior. Let them see that even though relationships don't always work out they way we'd planned, two people can move beyond the hurt and disappointment and still get along.
  • Include each other in as many of the important events as possible. Your child wants both of you there.

And finally: remember that the only way to defeat your enemy is to make them your friend. Treat one another with kindness and concern and eventually cooperation will overcome conflict.

Janet Pfeiffer of Oak Ridge is a "fresh voice" columnist for the Daily Record.

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