If you are on Facebook, chances are you have seen the video of the 6-year old girl giving divorce advice to her mom. The story has also been picked up by news channels around the country and has gotten close to six million views on YouTube. For those who haven’t seen it, the video is about three minutes long and is one continuous shot of a little girl talking to her mother, who is taping the conversation, about how she wants her mom and dad to get along following their divorce.
The little girl is undeniably adorable and summarizes the situation between her parents in a way that only a 6-year old could. Throughout the video, this child is able to articulate the common pitfalls that parents fall into and provides alarmingly insightful advice that any parents going through divorce or sharing custody of a child should take to heartThe video begins with the little girl asking, “Mom, are you ready to be his friend?” That’s a really simple question with probably a really complicated answer. Most parents recently divorced or separated would respond, no. And that is probably a justified answer.
People split up for a reason. It may be that one or both people fall out of love, infidelity, financial stress, medical or psychological issues, or any other thing that can cause a divide between two people that once had feelings for each other. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s not a positive thing, and therefore why would you be ready to be friends with someone with whom you just went through a negative and often contentious event?
However, from the perspective of a child, wanting their parents to be friends doesn’t mean seeing them hug when they say hello or getting together for coffee. But is it that hard to give the appearance of being friendly with one another? Exchanging pleasantries and not making your dislike of the other parent obvious will go a long way in making your child feel at ease and like they aren’t put in the middle of a situation that they couldn’t begin to understand. The phrase, fake it until you make it, comes to mind. Perhaps over time, faking the civility will lead to more positive feelings towards the other parent.
The little girl then goes on to tell her mom, “I think you can settle your mean heights down to short heights.” Throughout the video, she refers to how everything should be “low” versus being “up high.” Emotions in a divorce or separation are up high. Your life is turned upside down when you have to move, divide property, figure out if one parent will owe the other child support, and experience all of the other things that go into creating separate lives. Family law attorneys can often help you navigate through the legal side of these issues, but what to do with your emotions can often be left unsettled.
Some people find it useful to talk with a therapist, and there are even therapists and counselors that specifically work with parents going through a divorce. The fact is, when you add the issue of custody into a separation or divorce, it creates a deeply personal facet with very complicated and sad feelings. That first Christmas when you have to share time with your children and maybe not get to wake up with them on Christmas morning is unbelievably difficult. Those feelings aren’t unseen by your child. Finding a way to deal with those emotions and not putting them onto your child will take a huge burden off of a child that probably already feels torn between two parents who they love.
The video ends with the little girl telling her mom exactly what she wants to see between her parents by stating, “I want everything settled. I want everything to be as good as possible.” For any child having to watch their parents go through a separation or divorce, they just want it to be over with. There needs to be some normalcy and stability, even when things are far from it.
In contentious cases, the parties can drag things out for years. That doesn’t mean your children have to see it. Even in the absence of an order or agreement on custody, parents can work together to create a temporary parenting schedule and to make exchanges seamless. Start with simple issues, like coming to an agreement on where the exchanges will happen.
Even if one parent ends up driving more, if it keeps the peace and allows the children to not see tension between their parents, maybe that is worth giving in on. If one parent shows up to the soccer field to watch a game during the other parent’s time, allow and encourage your child to go talk to the other parent. Even if you are still working out the issues between attorneys or waiting on a court hearing, your children don’t need to know that. And if it is just small issues standing in the way of settling the case, perhaps it’s time to worry less about winning and focus more on providing closure for your children.
Finally, the little girl tells her mom, “My heart is something and everyone else’s heart is something too.” Children are sensitive and impressionable. They can be influenced for the rest of their lives by the example their parents set. Even if things didn’t work out in the marriage, that doesn’t mean children can’t see examples of kindness, love, and generosity in their parents anymore. Whether together or separate, a child’s parents are the primary role models they have for relationships and how to treat other people.
So maybe it’s time to start listening to the advice of a six-year old, stop viewing the other parent as the enemy, and get along for the sake of your children.
To see the video and hear the little girl’s advice, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm0UNn7tJ5o
For more information on Sodoma Law, please visit https://www.sodomalaw.com/.