When separated parents start throwing out the phrase, “best interest of the children,” in the midst of a dispute with the other parent, I know something is amiss.
As the fight rages on, both come to evoke that phrase. The dispute may be about decision making, the residential arrangement, choice of school or activities or attendance at some special event.
Each parent locked in bitter battle accuses the other of losing sight of the child’s best interest, while presenting themselves as the one truly acting on the child’s behalf.
What neither parent realizes though is that the life-long outcome for children of separated parents is less determined by who decides what, what time the child spends where or what school or activities they attend.
The real factor that determines the outcome for children of separated parents is the level of conflict between the parents. The greater the parental conflict, the more at risk the child is for poor outcomes.
The best interests of the child are served by parents finding peaceful solutions to resolving their differences. If there are locked in battle, it is clear one or both have lost sight of their child’s true best interest despite what may be said.
Your child likely won’t be counting the days he or she spent here or there as an adult, but will remember the pain and anguish of being torn apart.
The best childhood memories start with peaceful parents. Now that’s in the best interest of children.
I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.