Divorcing Parents Can Give Their Kids Second-Best
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Every day I hear one or more divorcing parents in my court say, "I just want to do what's best for the children."

I point out that what is the No. 1, all-time best thing for children is for parents to work out their difficulties, stay married and raise their children in a happy, intact family.

Because I preside over a divorce court, I never see anyone doing what is best for the children. Around here, second-best is as good as it gets.

Second-best for children is for their divorced parents to live as close to one another as possible--next-door neighbors if they can stand it.

Children need to spend time with both parents, but it is stressful for children to between two homes.

It is very beneficial for children if their parents live in the same neighborhood and certainly in the same school district, because that means their children will not be changing their whole world each time they change from one parent's home to the other's.

Of course, divorced parents absolutely must NOT fight.

Third-best for children of divorced parents is when the parents live a significant distance from one another--out of bicycle range. Even the distance between the Northeast Heights and the West Mesa in Albuquerque creates problems.

The shoes the child just must have for school the next day are always at the other parent's house. The homework gets left at the wrong house, and so on.

If parents live in different cities or states, their children are often forced to choose between spending time with a parent or participating in activities.

If a child is supposed to spend every other weekend in another city, soccer is not feasible. If a child is supposed to spend the summer in another state, little league is out of the question.

For even third best, divorced parents absolutely must NOT fight.

Divorced parents who fight and fuss are not entitled to have the "best" applied to them at all, not even 79th best. Nothing is worse for children than conflict between those two most important people in children's lives.

The simple, hard truth is that children of divorced parents always pay a price. The question is, How high will the price be?

Parents who cooperate in a civilized and peaceful way, and who live as near to each other as possible, can keep the price their children pay quite small.



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