Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Battle Scars

Yael Schuster

It’s always tumultuous for a child when parents divorce, and providing stability is critical. While the Mizbeiach sheds tears, parents can still help their children smile again

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

 Mishpacha image

STABLE GROUND Experts say that keeping each home fully stocked with whatever a child might need — a full wardrobe, school supplies, reading material, toiletries, pajamas — reduces the sense of living an unrooted, nomadic life (Photos: Eli Cobin)

F

or years the nightmare haunted him:

Shlomo is his six-year-old self, standing in the hallway of his parents’ home. His mother and father each hold one of his arms, soundlessly tugging him in opposite directions. He feels himself split in two.

The dream was so vivid that today, almost 30 years later, with only the slightest bit of imagination, Shlomo — now married with young children of his own — is back in the terror of that hallway scene. No need for Freud here, with the symbolism so glaringly obvious. This is exactly how it feels, says Shlomo, to be a child at the center of a custody battle.

“My friends who were at the center of nasty custody fights are cynical, closed-off people who’ve lost respect for both their parents,” says Dalya, whose parents divorced when she was 12. “They’re scarred on a deep psychological level. Other kids of divorce I know, whose parents managed to get along, have happy, stable lives.”

Divorce is never easy, and the very nature of a parental split-up throws children off balance, often shattering their sense of security and stability. Within custody arrangements, there are so many variables that can spell the difference between a well-adjusted individual and one with festering psychological wounds.

Is there a way to ease the pain and tension of a child faced with the confusion of dual loyalty, two homes, and perhaps conflicting lifestyles?

Gila’s Story: Psychological Chaos

At the time of my divorce ten years ago, I was so desperate to get out of my marriage that I quickly agreed to the custody deal presented to me. My oldest was nine, and though my husband was already displaying troubling signs, I couldn’t foresee the issues that would arise as my kids got older. Today I regret that I didn’t fight harder.

Within custody arrangements, there are so many variables that can spell the difference between a well-adjusted individual and one with festering psychological wounds

My ex and I live in the same town, and my kids spend two weeknights with me, two with their father, and alternate long weekends between us. In theory this sounds great. In my situation, it’s damaging. After the divorce, my ex changed to the point where now our hashkafos are completely different. In his house, the kids have little discipline and tremendous freedom to do what they want. Following halachah isn’t emphasized, and they watch movies that are antithetical to my values.

The inconsistencies are palpable to my kids, and as teens they’ve suffered with questions of identity. The fact that they spend equal time with each of us has only added to their identity confusion. With time, they each seem to be finding their own way.

I’ve considered going to court to try to change the custody arrangement, but have concluded that it’s not worth it. The cost would be huge in terms of money, time, and energy, and I realized that as they get older, they go back and forth between houses whenever they want anyway. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 673)

Related Stories

Powder Keg under Wraps

Aharon Granot, Kfar A-Ram

In hostile Arab territory, innocent factories can mask dangerous secrets, as I learned on a nighttim...

Beef from a Beaker

Beth Perkel

Is meat grown in a lab just a fantasy of the future, or could it really wind up on your dinner plate...

Sunset at Noon

Eytan Kobre

Physicist Dr. Yisrael Ury missed the last total eclipse of the sun, when Hawaii’s skies clouded over...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you