In the President’s speech to the nation from Tucson on January 12th, he singled out for our attention the innocent child Christina Taylor Green who was gunned down by the madman Jared Loughner. He said that she was just awakening to the political life in a democracy and that she had high expectations and dreams for that life. The sentence that resonated for the listener was the President’s pledge that he and we must live up to Christina’s expectations.
I immediately thought of how that pledge should apply to parents of innocent small children who are living through the stress of a divorce and the emotionally draining battles that come after. When parents have to have a third party present when they make exchanges of the children, what is the message the children get? What are the expectations for the future when they see the people responsible for their future screaming at each other?
Are children looking up with high expectations or have they learned that the people who should love them the most, can’t show that love by acting civilly to each other, even if it’s only in front of them? In an adversarial divorce, it’s hard for the couple to get past their anger at each other to focus on the needs of their children. That’s where a good mediator working with them early in the process or even after the divorce can shift the focus from the parents ‘ fights to their children’s expectations.