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The Importance of Kindness

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Maya Angelou

Late spring is a very busy time for family law lawyers as parents are preparing for the end of the school year including graduations, proms, planning for summer, fighting over vacation and summer camps. Small issues like seating arrangements for graduation can turn into a huge fight. Whether or not a parent can take their child for three days more than allowed by a Parenting Plan to spend time on the beach turns into an argument. Choice of summer camps become a war between parents. And international travel with the children during the summer has always been a huge and complex issue. Again and again, the summer co-parenting issues for ex-spouses are coming up hot and not all people handle it with grace, to say the least.

It seems lately that in this “mean” world ex-spouses cannot co-parent at all, unable to even talk to one another without adding insults, creating a high stress environment for the children. Therapy is always recommended for people who are going through divorce and for the kids whose parents are going through divorce. Using co-parenting coordinators avoids the most high conflict situations, but not everybody can afford it on the top of attorney’s fees.

To avoid madness – keep focus on the child. Is it so bad if your little one gets to play in the sand on the beach for three more days instead of being stuck at home?  Visiting a grandmother in Alabama for a brief period of time (even if the grandma is not perfect) is a good lesson to teach your child and to allow him/her spend time with extended family. And it does not matter which table you are sitting at for your child’s graduation as long as you are there to witness your son or daughter at one of their biggest achievements to date. Give your ex-spouse some grace and extend an olive branch even if it is very hard for you. And yes, even if you have done it numerous times in the past and your ex never reciprocated. Have an honest conversation with the parent of your child about your struggle without assigning blame. Offer to drive the child if your ex is sick or in a difficult situation. Swap visitation weeks. Help your child make a present for your ex for Mother’s day or Father’s day.  Be kind–for the benefit of your child as he or she is watching your actions.  Make a funny joke to deflect a rude comment from your ex and move on – don’t focus on the negative. That’s what your child will remember, how you handle difficult situations and how you reacted. Life is too short and we never truly know what other people are going through so choose to be kind. `

Dina Khismatulina