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Children: Blurred Lines

Tonight's post about children and blurred lines was written by our Lawrenceville attorney, Brandy Alexander.

Children, especially teenage children, often blur the line of adult and child. By the time they reach their teen years we adults have begun to encourage their maturity.  We needn't push independence upon our children because they demand it of us. Even their voices at some point stop cracking and take the tone of an adult voice. They have their own thoughts, opinions, likes and dislikes, wholly contrary to their toddler selves who wanted nothing more than to emulate mommy and daddy in every way.

These are the reasons, amongst perhaps so many others, that when we talk to teenage children we find ourselves walking a fine line between talking to a child and talking to a fellow adult. Sometimes those lines blur and we forget that we are in fact, talking to a child.

Memory, is a funny thing. We have zero control over what our brains store, remember and later recall and what gets forever lost in all of the data and information we have collected in our lifetime. What is most interesting to me about memory is that it comes to us just when we need it most; in the middle of a heated battle or during our grief. Similarly, the things that we know we should or should not do, like introducing grown-up facts to a child, can fly out the window when we are hurt or angry.

Because the line between teenager and adult can sometimes be quite blurred and because memory is such a fickle thing, it is easy to forget that your teenager or pre-teen, is still a child and should therefore not be introduced to adult things like  marital disagreements, monetary issues, legal issues, case strategy, your ex's sexual proclivities, etc.

Family Court is difficult enough for children. It is unfair to put any more stress on them by involving them in the adult goings on of Family Court and it is almost always a violation of a Court Order to disparage the other parent to the child.

Children need to stay children for as long as possible. They do not need to be hurled into adulthood before the law requires it of them. It is necessary and important to shelter your child from your legal issues as much as you can. I know how easy it is to say "Well we could have your dream 16th birthday party if your mom/dad would just pay the child support he/she owes me!" But think twice before saying something like that. It may be true, but take the high road, be the bigger person and just forego negativity about the other party. That cost of negativity is greater than any 16th birtday party could ever be.

Family court and domestic law can be tough for everyone but the effects on the child can be long lasting and devastating in their relationship with their parents and their future significant others. Spare them as much as possible by not making them pick a side or see the other parent any differently. Un-blur those lines. Keep them clear. Let your children love you both.

Brandy Alexander

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