After almost 20 years of working with divorcing families, I now have deeper compassion for how frustrations with an ex-partner can derail a parent's life.However, as a psychologist, I have had the privilege of having skillful and resourceful divorcing parents teach me over the years about a path to personal peace that is available for distressed moms and dads. "What goes around, comes around," or, in more biblical terms, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." All of the major wisdom traditions teach us to focus on giving respect before expecting it from others.On rare occasions, spouses choose to part in a gentle and respectful way: After looking across the breakfast table, after affirming their care for one another, they agree that they have "grown apart," quickly settle their affairs and move on to raise their children as friends from two separate homes.A wonderful scenario for children who are losing the nest as they have known it.Children are born into this world the product of two imperfect human beings.I often say the following to parents, somewhat tongue-in-cheek: "Your children have a right to of your imperfections." Nice words, yet tough to live by if your ex is behaving in foolish, upsetting ways.
without thoroughly understanding the needs and desires that are behind your ex's demands, even if these demands appear foolish.On one level, choosing to view the world, or a particular problem, through your ex's eyes is a path to compassion that can dampen some of your own suffering: Remember when Toto, in the , peeks behind the curtain to reveal a frightened, insecure person behind the false image of the fuming, frightening wizard?Peeking behind that same curtain with your ex can help you to remember his or her humanity and to feel less distress.If they witness civility and peace, they will be a resource of peace in an already angry world. All of the injuries that the divorce process creates can cause parents to demonize their ex-partners, to deny their humanity and their vulnerability, or to forget that there was a time when spending the rest of their life with this person was the most important thing in the world.Longfellow, the renowned nineteenth century poet, once said the following: "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find sorrow and suffering enough to dispel all hostility." Rosy words? This means that in the middle of angry or frustrating exchanges, it is easy and understandable for a parent to forget that the person they are now viewing as foolish or rigid is actually another human being with needs and concerns of their own.