Question 1: When is it, in the divorce process, that one parent finally gets to teach the other parent the right way of parenting?
Question 2: When in the divorce process does a judge finally tell one parent that he or she must act more like the other parent?
Question 3: How many months into the divorce process does the court give a ruling as to who is the better parent?
Question 4: When do I get to stop dealing with my ex-spouse if we have children in common?
Answer to questions 1 – 3: Never.
Answer to question 4: Never, if you are lucky enough to live that long.
The truth of the matter is that there are no perfect parents.
The truth of the matter is that parents who do their best are the perfect parents for their own children.
For the most part, children benefit from the adults in their lives. They might learn from one parent how to read, from another how to cook. A grandparent might be the person who gives a child his religious roots, or a good teacher might help a girl find her artistic abilities. Some parents have shorter or longer tempers. There are neater and messier parents, generous and cheap, attentive and distracted. Unless it rises to the level of negligence or abuse, unless an objective third party would place the child in foster care rather than let the parent continue to be involved, it is all within the scope of normal and acceptable.
If two parents cannot agree on a basic parenting profile – late vs. early bedtimes, nutritious vs. “fun” snacks, video games vs. crossword puzzles, etc. – while they are married, it is far less likely that they will agree on one as part of a divorce. Post dissolution, Dad will parent the way he has always wanted to, without mom’s interference. And Mom will likewise let her true colors shine more than ever. Matrimonial judges do not generally interfere with this dynamic.
Children will have their own preferences. They might like the fact that Dad always has dinner on the table at the same time, giving them a sense of stability, and they might think it is exciting that you never know where you are going to eat dinner when it is Mom’s turn. Kids who feel more comfortable in a very organized house might take on the job of cleaning up when they are visiting the disheveled house, preparing them for adulthood.
As long as both parents are alive, they should both have strong binds with their kids, and eventually their grandchildren. If what you truly want is your child’s best interest and long term happiness, then allowing the parents to be themselves, for as long as everyone is able, is the best gift you can give your children, and – someday, hopefully – your grandchildren.
What We Love: The nuttier your ex is, the more your kids will think you seem normal, if only by comparison.