Shakespeare died today in 1616 and I sat thinking, not about his words and the fact that we still admire them, but at the complexity of families and divorce. I was wondering how we manage to still get it so wrong when we know all about the topic and its effects, yet we still cannot make it better.
Just to clarify, there are parents who instinctively understand the process and manage their divorce amicably - in other words, parents with high EQ (let's call it that for now).
Let me start at home. During or after their divorce, most dads call their exes ‘bi-polar’ and moms often say that dad is a ‘narcissist’. (Tongue in cheek?) I find it strange how ‘normal’ parents suddenly develop mental illnesses!
Then we move to the system that is designed to manage the divorce process – the ‘Business of Divorce’. And the players are: 1) the money-makers’, 2) the ‘crazy people’ (being the parents, but now we call them "the defendant" and "the plaintiff") and finally 3) the workers. Note that "the children" are not included.
The money makers are not interested in all the tit-for tat ‘he-said-she-‘said’ drama, but are willing to listen if you put a large enough deposit down. Unsurprisingly, they will stop being interested as soon as the money dries up.
Then we move to the crazy people. Now called "the defendant" and "the plaintiff" - dressed as peasants from the 1600's and acting like the court Jester - but mentally ill, just because we have names for it in the year 2015. Half of the peasants spend their time in court corridors until they realise that it is futile, while the other half smile at the world from behind the huge stone walls they have built - while telling the world how crazy the plaintiffs are.
The plaintiffs, meanwhile, jump up and down like Tigger on Red Bull, because they simply cannot break through the stone wall. They become so frustrated that they then enter the arena and become gladiators while the defendants and the money-makers sip pina coladas from the stands.
Running between stands and the bleeding gladiators, the workers try tirelessly to calm everyone down. Trying to explain to the gladiators and trying to explain to defendants... but blood is flowing and the crowd screams for more...
And so the wheel spins around, from the beginning of time. Yet we allow this madness to continue, despite the benefit of a modern framework. We allow ourselves to blame the system. The plaintiffs blame the defendants and the defendants blame the plaintiffs. And the crowd stays entertained.
And while the business of divorce pleases the crowds, the workers are heard saying:
"I sat crying with parents after their teenage son committed suicide"
"The four year old girl is now suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder"
"When I look at the constant fighting between your parents, I can understand why you are getting divorced for the third time, aged 42."
"Not all children have ADHD, they are simply trying to cope with their divorced parents constantly fighting"
"Why are you not emotionally available to help your child?"
We know all of this, we see and hear about this every single day, yet we keep on hating our exes more than we love our children. How about we all stop wasting our time on marches, and petitions and court battles, and peasant outfits and designing new names for new disorders? How about we simply pick up a mirror and truthfully start apologizing?
How about we simply channel all our energy into loving our children and supporting them through the life we gave them?