This post is more on my theme for this week, “The greatest of these is love”. Love is the answer. It is the one thing that is missing from the Family Court System. How can a system that works with families be devoid of love?
How do I treat parents who struggle for years without end in on-going court battles? Why do I connect with these parents, while the court authorities label these families , placing judgment, such as high conflict, or label the parents and children with some mental behavior disorder? While court authorities may be correct in recognizing some disorders that are present in these lives, they may instead be seeing a situational manifestation of the underlying stress, emotions, extreme fear, and lack of understanding the system that keeps these people living back brained, every day of their lives.
These parents wake up in the morning wondering why. Why did this happen to me? They go to bed at night asking, why. Why can’t this stop? Why can’t I have my life back? Why? I never did anything to deserve this! No one ever called me a bad parent before. They cannot understand for the life of them how the things they have always done without being vilified for, and were instead, often praised for, are now treated like a crime. Treated as a crime that is not on the books, not listed in the world in general, as criminal behavior, but in this new setting of darkness, it is a crime and punishable.
I’d like to see the system change. The system can work where it needs to, but it takes so long, and it is not really doing any justice. It was put in place to help people terminate a marriage, and to establish a place in their child’s life after that marriage has ended. It was not put in place to follow families for years, and to pick at every little parenting decision that they make. Those of us who are parents understand that we don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes we don’t know what to do, and that is made worse by not having the freedom to figure it out through trial and error. We do our best much of the time. There are certain triggers for parents, or anyone for that matter, who is struggling. When you are hungry, lonely, tired, angry or afraid, you don’t always do the right thing, have the right reaction, or choose the right path.
All people have these feelings from me to time in their life, but the families who are frequent fliers in court experience trauma all the time. They go through life thinking that they are done with this system, and wake up one day and there it is again. Rearing its ugly head. It is maddening to try to become free, and find out you are not. In their face is another battle, and another request for thousands of dollars to pay an attorney, thousands of dollars that this parent would rather spend on their family. Thousands of dollars they would rather spend on their family, on their children, and on more positive things in life.
You can’t disengage from the Family Court because if you don’t respond, if you don’t show up, the consequences are severe. The other party wins. What kind of justice is that? We should be able to say, no more! I quit. I’m done! I am not going to engage in this nastiness anymore! I am not going to engage in that which takes me away from my children. I am not going to engage in that which makes me so weary that it takes away so much time and energy away from my children, that it is beyond ridiculous. I’m not going to do it anymore.
But they do not let people do that. Parents are often punished with a financial judgement or losing time with their children, and sometimes, losing their children completely. They have been accused of doing things that are often unproven. Accused of things that other parents do in their daily lives, and no one judges them for it, or punishes them for it, and no one says anything to them about it. No one thinks anything of it when t involves a parent not in the Family court setting, because no one is pointing it out in a court of law, and saying that they don’t like that behavior. Unfortunately, that is what these on-going court battles are really all about. One parent doesn’t like what the other parent is doing. It has nothing to do with laws, and so these things don’t belong in court. They just don’t.
What I do differently, is that I love these people. I accept them for who they are. I accept the fact that they have faults, like we all do, and I help them take the system that is all powerful, and break it down to size. I help them realize that it is a set back in life, but they cannot allow it to be all consuming. I cannot do it for them, though. They do it for themselves, but what happens is that I trust them to do it. I stand back and I let them do it. And if they are struggling to know what to do, at times, I work with them to help them figure it out.
We need to be loving these families. We need to be holding them in our hearts. We need to be loving the children, and allowing both parents to be who they are and not label what kind of parenting they should do. Some will co-parent, and do it well. Some will co-parent and not do it well. Some will not be able to co-parent, and they will need to find another way, but it doesn’t need to be labeled as anything other than parenting. It doesn’t mean that these parents are bad.
In a lot of these battles the parents are chastised for their struggle. Judges and court authorities chastise them for bad mouthing each other. Yet, what is the court doing? What are the court authorities doing? They, too, are badmouthing the parents. They are not looking for the positive. They are looking for who is to blame. They are looking to find fault. They are often looking, not for the good parent, but which one is the worst parent. The court thinks that both parents are bad, because, to be honest, the court doesn’t think highly of either one of these people.
We have to do better, and I know we can do better, and when these parents are supported and accepted for who they are, and held accountable when the children aren’t safe, or the children are hurting emotionally. What I mean by accountable is not punishment, but it is, asking them what action they will take for their children’s security. We need to give them the support, the tools and the space, to rectify the problems.
These parents wants to make things better. They want to do better for their kids. They want to be left in peace. They want that stress taken away, so that they can focus on parenting and moving in a better direction for them and their children. Sometimes the other parent is going to move in a better direction with them, and sometimes they are not. When the other parent will not move in a positive direction, we need to give a parent the permission to say, “They are not going to move on with me, so I have to move on by myself.” Then, just let it be.
The relationship will be what it is going to be, and if given time, space, and acceptance, they might come into a better relationship. If court professionals keep pointing out how bad one is to the other, the court system is doing what they accuse these parents of doing to each other all the time-badmouthing. I think it would be much better if the court would focus on the positive things that these parents are doing, because there are positives.
I came from my own high conflict battle. The other parent and I were never going to see eye to eye. We had completely different world views. We married when we were young, before our front brains were developed, and by the time our brains were developed, we were totally different, with different views of the world, and different paths we wanted to take, and that is all there was.
Divorce law shouldn’t be about changing the people into what some legal authority wants them to be, because this court involvement in families ends when children are 18. So why should a parent change their life, and who they are for 1-18 years in the system, when their life will hopefully be 100 years long or so, and they have to be who they are. People have to be who they are, and be accepted for who they are and not criticized all the time. And then they can soar! But keeping these families in court is like tying an anchor to them. It’s a heavy weight that they always carry, and they cannot fly. They cannot be free. The court should be about laws, but families are about love. And if the court is not going to love them, then the court needs to get out of their way, and let them be the light, and the love, for their children.