Rip off the band-aid… Tell the kids. “Kids, there is something that Daddy and I have to tell you. We are getting a divorce.” You know they have heard the fighting, the screaming… maybe they have seen worse. Ripping that band-aid off, and getting the news “out there” can be scary, and it certainly makes it real. Gwyneth Paltrow and ex Chris Martin took another approach. Back in 2014, they introduced the world to another phrase that was laughed about, and written about and thought about – Conscious Uncoupling. Getting back to the band aid metaphor, it is more like gently covering the band-aid in vaseline to ideally loosen the adhesive, and then filling a bowl with the perfect temperature of warm water, making softly scented bubbles and then carefully sliding in the hand with the bandage and attempting to slide the bandage off, trying to not to pull any little hairs or hurt the skin in any way. The bandage slips off… there is no further pain as the wound underneath has already healed. For those of us who have gone through a divorce, we know that it is rarely like that.
Is this the divorce of the rich? A divorce where neither has to sacrifice in any way to parent the child. There is no stay at home parent; there is no parent burdened with being the primary income earner. There is a higher level of valued belief that suggests that we can be more civilized; we can rise above that which divides us, in order to unite over what binds us together. I started out thinking that way, but I have my doubts now. The end goal here, after listening to the latest interview with Gwyneth, leaves me thinking that this is an attempt to begin the co-parenting before the actual divorce begins. There is a separation of lives, into two homes, but there is a unified center where the once “coupled” parents either attempt to put aside their differences to unite as family to parent the children, or they divide, each with a feeling that they will each have equal rights to parent the family.
Co-parenting seems to be the inevitable evolution of the uncoupling. In this article in the Huffington Post, Gwyneth admits to challenges.
“It’s’s been hard, and you know, we’ve gone through really difficult times with it but we’ve always said these children are our priority,” she said “What that really means is, ‘Even though today, you hate me and you never want to see me again, we’re going to brunch, ’cause it’s Sunday and that’s what we’ll do!’ You know, like, ‘That’s what’s happening!’ The children are our commitment.”
There is no evidence of a power play here. They want what we all want, happy, healthy children, unscathed by divorce.
Rich or poor, divorced or consciously uncoupled, the struggles of parenting after divorce are inevitable and universal. What evades me here, is the idea that the kids are unaware of the bigger issue here, i.e that the parents are no longer married. It does beg certain questions:
Is there a certain dishonesty in attempting to carry on with life “as usual”?
Is it fair to the children to let them believe that there are no changes in the family structure?
Would such an arrangement in the case of a non-celebrity family prevent the parents from “moving on” with their own lives?
Returning to the band-aid metaphor, is the attempt at keeping the status quo like the cut that opens and re-opens because it is never allowed to properly heal?
If there is one thing that I have learned in my divorce, it is that this life that we live has become the norm. This “new normal” has replaced what came before.
I give full props to the family for attempting to put aside personal feelings to come together for the kids, but I do not to understand the benefits of failing to be honest with the children about what their new normal is to be. Good or bad, life carries on, and it changes and evolves.
Like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, my Ex and I come together for birthday meals. It is incredibly difficult at times, and as I have written, I have been brought to tears at such events. Sometimes I greatly dread those events, but I try to not let them affect my joy at the particular event. In my case, my honesty allows me to do my best to use each experience as an opportunity to set an example. I have the opportunity to share with my children the fact that we can parent together, but that we are separated and not living as a family for a reason. Allowing them to think that nothing is wrong is putting my stamp of approval on what happened in the past. I want my boys to be a better husband than he was, and I want my daughter to demand more respect than I did. Feigning lack of change prevents growth for all.
Good luck to all those who can manage what they are attempting, but in my humble opinion, it is far better that everyone involved in a family has the chance to learn from what happened, and to move on with the new normal.
Co-Parenting is admirable, but it will work best when we remove the bandage and let the healing begin.