The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Children Should Not Hear

Posted by Seeking Solace |

One of the things that really aggravated me as a family law attorney was when parents would fight in front of the kids or bitch about the other parent to their friends while the kid is in earshot.

It's not cool. Kids should not be involved in adult problems.

When I was a practicing lawyer, I spent most of my time in Family Court. I was a Guardian at Litem, which is an attorney that represents the child's interests in divorce, custody and visitation matters. It's like the child having his or her own lawyer. For older kids, it gives them a voice and someone to talk to. In the court setting, this attorney wears the gray hat. Their job is to look out for the best interest of the child...and make the parents see that sometimes they make things harder for the children by fighting in front of them or bad mouthing the other parent.

Our friend, E, is in the middle of an ugly divorce (Of course, the majority of divorces are ugly, at least in my experience as a lawyer, but this one is particularly vicious). Anywho, the divorce has financially bankrupted our friend, E. We have loaned him money, with no expectations of repayment, to help him out.

E is visiting us with his 17 year old son. E had mentioned that he needed money because of some craziness with his child support order, which is quite odd to me because I have never seen that kind of crazy stuff in all of my years practicing family law. Husband and I talked and offered to help. Naturally, we had this conversation while Son was in the shower, so as not to privy him to such conversation. Well, E continued to vent even after Son had walked into the room. I could immediately tell that Son was not happy about what he was hearing his dad say about his mom. Husband tried to usher E upstairs so that he could give E the money privately, but E was still bitching and moaning about his bitch of an ex-wife, the lawyers and being bankrupt.

I walked into the living room and could still hear E bitching. I said to Son that I was very sorry that he had to hear this and that I understood how he may feel right now. I told him he could always talk to me anytime, if he just needed to vent.

Then, I went upstairs to rescue Husband, who was trying so hard to end the conversation with E. I said "I don't think that Son should be hearing this right now. Why don't we discuss it later."

Husband was relieved. I think it's hard for him to say something to E because E is his best friend and it's not in Husband's nature to make waves. For me, it's a little easier. Even though E is like a brother to me, I just fell back on my training as a guardian at litem.

But, inside, I am seething.

I am pissed because I can see the hurt written on Son's face. And yes, his mother is a no good, beeyatch (I know her and I know what trouble she has caused her entire family). But, I will never say that to Son. See, Mom and/or Dad may do bad things, but in the child's eyes, it's still Mom and Dad to them. Also, kids have a strange way of turning any problem between Mon and Dad as being the kid's fault. Even older kids, like Son, feel it too. They may not express it, but they do.

I don't know what will happen with Son. I can only hope that he knows that despite all of this his parents do love him and none of their problems are his fault.

And, that he does have people who care about him.


Sherlock said...

I worked for CASA and was a public school teacher. The behaviors parents exhibit toward each other in the presence of children was horrible. I remember some parent conferences at school where mom and dad would refuse to come in at the same time and on the few occasions they would do that, they'd sit at different tables with their backs to each other in the room. Sheesh. I felt like saying GROW UP! Of course I couldn't do that. But I heard a judge in family court say that to moms and dads many a time! YAY for those judges!

rented life said...

Husband and I have talked about this sort of thing a few times--watching people say terrible things in front of children. You explained perfectly why one should watch what they say, regardless of how they feel. I think parents forget, especially as a child gets older, that while the kid is becoming an adult, mom and dad are still mom and dad to them.

Psycgirl said...

Good post Seeking! I totally agree with you

柏強 said...