I had one of those wonderful moments as an attorney, friend, mom, divorced mom, human when I watched a client learn how to communicate with her soon-to-be ex in a way that was constructive, respectful and "forward focused." She even said "Thanks" when I wrote her a firm note to "stop" the past communication mistakes.
One of my favorite roles as a family law attorney is to teach my clients how to communicate effectively. I take my role as "counselor at law" to heart and I provide my clients with an abundance of education material to help them understand the impact of parental conflict on their children. Many people just don't realize the damage they are doing.
Sometimes education material is not enough. Sometimes I must get in the middle of communication to really see the toxic patterns. I love being "bcc'd" on all communication (within the bounds of the Rules of Professional Conduct of course) so that I can see how they interact, see how my client might be exasperating the situation and what skills need to be taught moving forward so that they do not continue in the toxic communication patters. Truly helping my clients make strides to improve how they co-parent so that we can limit the psychological damage to children is my heart's mission. It makes me smile everytime a client sends me a note that says "Did you see how much better I responded to that?" They know when they get it, they know when their buttons are being pushed yet they have learned to not engage. It is an amazing feeling witnessing this change.
I have the honor of working with so many wonderful parents, who clearly love their children deeply but allow their hate for their ex-spouse to take over and ruin their children's lives. Children can recover from divorce and be better for it but some children can barely make it through a day of intense parental conflict. Its the conflict that ruins the kids not the divorce.
Think about that damage to your child the next time you want to hit "send" on a nasty email or the next time you say something rude and spiteful to your ex. The damage that is being done is to your child. Would you send that email to your child? Would you want that email published on the front page of the newspaper? (I tell all prospective clients that if their written communication is not "newspaper" ready then don't send it.)
I always encourage my clients to seek out counseling or support groups so that they can get the help they need in order to rise above the conflict. It takes work to be the bigger parent but it is life's greatest work to do what is right for your children.
Parent on with respect and confidence knowing that you are protecting your children from long-lasting psychological damage.