Rule #1 of raising healthy, emotionally well-adjusted kids: Keep the kids out of the parent crap.
That rule is probably stated much more eloquently somewhere else. (In fact, I’m sure it is!) But whether I remember the exact wording or not, that’s the takeaway I took away from my Divorced Parents class a few years ago.
The class probably had a better name too. The morning-long, mandated-by-the-state class was a somewhat awkward and sad affair, held at the county courthouse and required for all parents divorcing within a certain time frame. Over and over again, they told us that continued conflict between parents harmful to kids. Over and over, we were told that it’s important to work together, important to keep both parents involved in the lives of the children to whatever extent possible.
And over and over, most of us nodded while silently wondering, “How the hell are we going to pull that off?” Because let’s face it: you don’t end up in family court or Divorced Parents class if you’re doing a great job of working things out. Most of us were there precisely because we couldn’t work things out with our spouse, because things were tense.
Around that same time, Kate & Jon Gosselin were going through their divorce. I remember this distinctly, because their not-exactly-amicable divorce was final before mine was, despite the fact that we’d separated before the Gosselins.
It’s been nearly four years since then, and in that time, the conflict and tension between my ex and I has settled down. We’re not perfect people or perfect parents, but we’re doing the best we can to build healthy boys.
As for the Gosselins….well, they seem to still be at war, with both sides firing shots in a battle that the courts long ago declared to be over. I don’t know what exactly happened before, during or after Kate’s TODAY show appearance with twins Mady and Cara yesterday. I don’t know why Jon gave interviews with his thoughts on the segment. And I really don’t know who thought it was OK to ask 13-year-old girls to comment on their dad’s post-divorce love life.
What I do know: If I Google the word “Gosselin” today, I get 5, 970,000 hits. The oldest Gosselin girls are teens. There’s no way they’re isolated from the on-going conflict between their parents.
If you are separated, divorced or otherwise not with the other parent of your children, the most loving, responsible, respectful thing you can do for your kids is to keep them out of the parent crap.
Few of us will manage to do that 100 percent of the time. We are human, and we mess up. But please: if you are divorced, separated or otherwise apart from the other parent of your kids, make the effort. Bite your tongue, as necessary. Vent to a friend, in private. Write in a notebook. See a counselor.
And stay off national TV.