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"America’s Voiceless” The Children of Divorce
by: Susan Murphy-Milano
When people start a new relationship, it is as though Cinderella and her Prince stepped out of that childhood story. A more realistic way to look at it is to think of it as two people who are running for office, campaigning to be in the other person’s life. Forget that it is not who they will be later in life. We are too busy getting the other person to “choose us” so we can live happily ever after. There is, bad habits early on in the relationship we never see. For instance, leaving dirty clothes scattered, drinking directly out of the juice carton, putting a dirty knife back in the drawer and watching from around the corner as they lick it clean, washing is too much effort. Both sides hide their bad habits when they begin dating, because they are too busy running for the highest office in the country, ultimately the office of marriage and parenthood.

This fantasy life fades as people grow together in a relationship. Unfortunately, about sixty percent grow apart during the marriage.

When the marriage ends it is like a house set on fire. All desired hopes, dreams and commitment cherished by both sides, up in smoke. But, we forget that the child of this relationship has yet to lay the foundation of their lives.

Divorce on any level, is devastating. For children, their warm, safe world is suddenly shattered like a broken toy, in many pieces. When parents begin to divorce, do they really stop and think about the children? All too often, the children fall under the invisible heading of “power base” or worse yet, “negotiable”.

A child’s life during a divorce is like a roller coaster, going up minute and down the next. Parents are keeping score of their child’s affection as though they were at a sporting event. Both parents fear losing ground as though their competition, the other parent, chips away at there own individual “power base”. This is an automatic reaction during a divorce. If only parents would stop for a moment and realize, that children have unconditional love for each of them.

Children were not beamed down from space to earth. They were conceived and brought into this world with the greatest expectations, and most of all love. By two people the child calls mother and father. These two people have forgotten that being a parent, role model and teacher, means not putting down the other. Or using the children to emotionally beat up the “competition”. Because, being a parent is a privilege!

A divorce is like a funeral. Of course, there is no casket or service. But the process is the same.
“Funeral” services begin when the parties enter their lawyers office, (I call them legal funeral representatives) they help prepare for the death of their clients marriage.

The lawyers seek out personal, confidential information about you, only to file it in a public record for the world to see.

Attached to this public record filing is a detailed financial description, (yours) of personal property and assets acquired during the marriage.

Somewhere between page 11 or 15 of the divorce agreement, your children are listed, like an asset, by name and age. And on yet another page, you will find the “children”, stating who gets custody when, on what days, with specific times and for how long. Can’t forget the holiday schedules, this appears on yet another page of the divorce decree. This page looks more like a major event schedule, trading odd and even years off during the holidays.

If parents would think for a moment and get off their “power base”, they should be able to work out these very private details among themselves.

Months, and in some cases years later a judge, who I refer to as the coroner (no disrespect intended) sit before these strangers, in a court of law, with people who once vowed to love, honor and cherish each other all the days of their lives, ask if all parties are in agreement, with the tap of his gavel, signs the death certificate (known more commonly as the divorce decree.

I for one think this process is a crime. We allow total strangers to settle our once very happy lives. The greater crime, however, is the children, divided up among the parents like a piece of property. They are the “Voiceless Victims.”

© 2005 - Susan Murphy Milano

About the author:
Susan Murphy Milano, is a respected author and nationally recognized relationship expert.Her new book Moving Out,Moving On, when a relationship goes wrong is now available.Susan's quest for justice has been trumpted across the pages of newspapers, magazines, radio and televison, including, Oprah, CNN, MSCNBC, ABC, NBC, 20/20.

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