Kids Need Both Parents

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

A woman when told by her husband that he wanted out of the marriage came for help. It was not so much the concern for herself but for her three year old daughter that prompted her to seek help. She was terrified of the damage the divorce would do to their little daughter. 

A deep rooted fear that her daughter will be devastated by their divorce stemmed from her own experience of bitter parental divorce when she was thirteen. She could never forget how scared she was by constant fights between her parents and would've given anything to stop those fights. She would often be woken up in the middle of the night by the yelling, screaming. and the slamming of doors before the parents finally decided to part their ways. 

The animosity and the bitterness only increased after the divorce as each parent let the daughter know about their displeasure with the other. They didn't hesitate to malign and castigate each other, whenever either had a few private moments with her. Since they had an agenda of their own, they hardly attended to the needs and interests of the child. 

My client hardly spent any quality time with either parent. Never before did she need to be assured of the love of both parents as much as at this time. But the parents never ceased to impress on her that only he or she cared about her and the other one didn't. Each parent would take turns to tell her, "How could your dad (or mom) do this to you? If only he (or she) put you first. . . . " What did she think about the divorce? She felt used by both of them. 

For a child, both parents are heroes unless one of them spoils the image. Children want to believe that they have the greatest dad and the greatest mom in the world. If one parent poisons the mind of the child against the other parent, he or she pulls away one of the two pillars of the emotional structure the child stands on. Imagine what it would be like to experience the bonding with one parent while at the same time being under constant assault by another. It is very painful and frightening experience. 

A child, by nature, wants to be loyal and respectful to both parents. Self esteem of a child depends on his or her admiration and respect of the parents. You probably have noticed that individuals with strong character, hope, and confidence, often talk about their parents as if they are still their heroes. Proud of their parents, they seem ever so grateful for the wise words their parents said and the precious things they taught them. Their parents will always be a source of strength they can fall back on, in the time of doubts and insecurities. 

It is every child's birthright to draw inspiration and strength from their parents and to cherish their memories as good people. Children also have a right to feel that they are lovable and that both their parents love them more than any thing else in the world. If this feeling of children is protected and nourished in the first few years of life, they would become self confident, positive, and trusting adults of tomorrow. 

No parents will knowingly make their children grow into negative, distrustful, and self doubting adults, and yet many parents because of their anger with the ex-spouse and ignorance of the consequences of their behavior on their children end up doing that. This may result in the child being denied the chance of being proud of his or her heritage. 

One study reveals that 95 % of people today do not want a marriage that they were brought up in. So what kind of model of marriage and parenting are we setting for our children? 

When the children who witnessed bitter parental divorce grow up to be young adults, they experience an emotional crisis when they want to make a commitment to their prospective partners. They go through still another emotional crisis when they are to raise their own children. They have been traumatized by the parental divorce at a highly impressionable age. 

Some of them feel angry, insecure, depressed, and don't know where those feelings are coming from. They are "burned" children of yesterday. We parents have the obligation to set a good example as couples and parents before we can expect our children to become loving and responsible couples and parents. 

"Home school " is the place where children learn how to become good or bad husbands, wives or a parents. Parents are the first teachers and home is the first school. Lessons learned there are deeply impressed on the young minds. When parents act as heroes and master teachers at home, their children not only love them but also respect them and admire them. 

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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