Should Divorced Parents Spend Time Together For Their Kids' Sake?

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On Slate's parenting podcast "Mum and Dad Are Fighting", the hosts debated a tough question: After a divorce, should you spend time together as a family if a child requests it?

A mother named Amy called in to share that she and her children's father are going through an "amicable" divorce, but her 4-year-old really wants the family to hang out together. For Amy, doing so would be "unhealthy" and she fears it would send the wrong message to the kids, one that gives them hope that their parents will one day get back together.

She wanted to know what she should do. The advice-givers, Carvell Wallace and Rebecca Lavoie, had differing opinions.

Wallace suggested she go for it, that purposefully scheduled family time — an hour or two a week with "super clear boundaries" — would help the kids with this very difficult transition. Lavoie disagreed, believing that while school concerts, birthday parties and other events specifically focused on the child are fine to attend together as a family, anything beyond that creates a "slippery slope" and may take a toll on new relationships.

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It's a fact that many marriages end in divorce. There are all sorts of reasons for this and the process, even in a 'conscious uncoupling' where both parties agree to remain on friendly terms, there is a lot of pain and heartache. Some social commentators point to the ease of divorce being the reason so many marriages breakdown. But how do you get divorced?

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With the rise of divorce vacays, more parents are going to great lengths to show their kids that relationships can still be meaningful even if they don't work out as planned.

In a New York Times Modern Love essay, Lara Bazelon described the unexpected success of a family holiday she took with her kids and her ex-husband. "Divorce, at its best, is a love reborn — birthed from heartache and rage and despair and ultimately, forgiveness — that creates a different kind of family", she wrote.

If you've been divorced, do you schedule family time? How does it work? What does it look like?


Comments

    Divorce vacays!?

    If you want to learn how to have a healthy marriage and create your own happily ever after kind of love, try these 3 things:
    1. Make your spouse a priority.
    2. Commit to traveling the marital journey together.
    3. Know that there are natural cycles in any committed relationship.
    I think these 3 things are crucial; yet, I think when it comes to step-marriages, for some reason, people think none of the above should apply. Instead, they think the “secret” to having a happy step-marriage is for the step-parent to suck it up and take it. Just looking at #1 this is what I see:
    1. Make your spouse a priority. There are a billion and one nut jobs out there now, at least, who think “Kids should come first.” And, some even unabashedly think that that should include BM and her ex- and the kids going out on dinner dates. The thought is, if DH’s current spouse doesn’t go along with this, she is being immature. Really!? How does “make your spouse a priority” get turned into “make your (ex- and) children a priority” after a divorce. That doesn’t even happen in initial marriages, nor Is it supposed to.
    So, no, there probably really isn’t many happily ever afters for step-marriages. Society as a whole is too busy pretending that divorce = happily ever after.

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