As an advocate I recently had a very enlightening conversation with a parent who has been through the family court gauntlet. She’s still going through it, and I find most conversations with her intriguing. This woman is someone I consider highly intelligent and has a way of putting thought into word that makes as much sense as anything I’ve heard.
She said she had a conversation over lunch with a young parent just starting out in what is viewed as the family court crisis. The young parent was on the customary shrill and high adrenaline mode that is familiar in the advocacy world. Set on riling legislators, shouting to the world, exposing wrong-doing, organizing a fail-proof game plan with some new formula to win this, not only for own child, but for others too.
This parent of intelligence voiced what I’ve been thinking for years. She told this newbie that they, meaning the court, already knew everything any parent was going to do, how they will shift and re-shift their approach, everything they were going to say, all the money they’ll throw at the problem, and that family and friends will throw their money too, every emotion they are going to feel… and they don’t care.
The court knows how to navigate and profit around all of it. They, in contrast to the average lay person, know all the rules, how to stretch them, how to manipulate them… and it’s all legal. It might seem entirely unethical. Maybe a parent is lucky enough to 1) catch them in some illegal posturing, 2) find someone to look through the hysteria long enough to see, and 3) care.
There isn’t much that can be done that’s different when you’re adrenaline is screaming and you just want your baby back. Essentially, you’re another body in the drowning pool. It burns every ounce of energy, and of course your children are worth it. You feel, and it’s true, no one can care for your child like you do. Another may parent (verb) just as well or they may be horrible parents. But they will never be the parent that you are to your child – good or bad.
When you enter Family Court parenting is not going to be the same again regardless of how it lands. You can’t create the traditional wholesome picture of family in this new deck of cards and in today’s world. It’s going to be different… and it’s not inherently bad if you navigate it right most of the time.
Parenting as you envisioned, maybe dreamed about or even achieved for a time is gone… Your best resource is to learn strategy to better maneuver as much quality time possible with your child. You’ll build a life that may not be familiar, but it can be made just as whole and significant. You will be an example peaceful negotiation for your child.
One day they will no longer be under the control of family court. The goal being as little damage control as possible necessary with your relationship with them to sift through on their adult end, and controlling the depth of the gap family court and no peace-filled parents tends to promote.
In the meantime you keep using calm strategy to change their circumstances if they are being harmed and build a life around ground zero that your children can embrace in the “one day” scenario that’s theirs.