What Conflict Looks Like (and What Peace Looks Like) to Children
When people divorce, they often go into fight or flight mode—for many people the conflict of divorce feels like fighting for their very survival. That may be a natural, even primal response, but many divorcing couples are working through the feelings of fight or flight and learning to move through the conflict into a peaceful co-existence, like we imagine adults should do. This type of more peaceful conflict resolution is breaking out all over, but it isn’t what typically makes headlines, so people don’t realize how common it is now for divorcing couples to transition into a new and restructured relationship in a healthier way than once was the norm.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin divorced a couple of years ago. She is an Academy Awarding Winning Actress and he is a rocker with the band ColdPlay. When she announced their separation on her website as “Consciously Uncoupling,” people scratched their heads and some even laughed at what a strange descriptive term she had used to tell everyone they were divorcing. But she continues to defend that as the right term and the right thing, albeit separating and divorcing is still a very painful and hard process.
In an interview on “Today,” Paltrow said she and her children’s father, Chris, see each other nearly every day and often spend time together as a family. “It’s so hard and I would never judge anyone for doing it anyway. Just, for us, we thought if we could maintain the family even though we’re changing the shape of it, it would be, that would be our ideal scene and so, that’s what we’re trying to do.” In Net-A-Porter, Paltrow continued these thoughts, “I wanted to turn my divorce into a positive…What if I didn’t blame the other person for anything, and held myself 100 percent accountable? What if I checked my own s— at the door and put my children first? And reminded myself about the things about my ex-husband that I love, and fostered the friendship?” In an interview, she said she and Chris may be thinking they hate each other on a day, like a Sunday, but it’s Sunday and on Sunday they take their children to brunch—they act like grown-ups and keep their children their priority.
For divorce lawyers and other divorce professionals, this positive thought process is refreshing.
For divorce lawyers and other divorce professionals, this is so refreshing, and we are hearing this type of approach and philosophy from more and more clients. When your children break their arm or crack their head open by falling off a jungle gym at the park, we all immediately go into that fight or flight—survival mode, but we also call on our adult selves to manage the situation for the sake of the children—someone has to, and the same is true for divorcing families—children of divorce have no one but their parents to take the high road and do the adult thing so that their children don’t suffer needlessly. Couples can divorce as they live the rest of their lives–like adults.