Terrorism and Children of Divorce

Published on July 18, 2016
Randy Kessler
Past Chair, ABA Family Law Section, Family Law Atty

peace and war

As a divorce lawyer for nearly 30 years, I have unfortunately seen too many children suffer because of their parents’ divorce. The metaphors abound. One judge, after hearing a case where the husband had moved a new fiancé into his home before his divorce was complete stated “your child’s empire is falling apart and now you are installing a new emperor.”   In other words, divorce is, in a child’s eyes, often like the destruction of civilization as they have come to know it. And isn’t that strikingly similar to the goals of most terror groups? So when a divorce is compounded with a world terror event, imagine how a child may perceive that? When their world is crumbling, and then they see on TV that the outside world also appears to be crumbling, imagine what they perceive.

So what’s my point, where am I headed with this? That we must take extra steps to reassure our children that their world will be stable, predictable and not continually torn apart. We should do this for children of divorce. But when world events scare us all into believing that chaos could prevail and that the world as we know it may be different tomorrow, we must unite (even parents who have been through very contentious divorces) and jointly reassure our children of our love for them and of the security of their future.   Terror events offer us a perhaps unique opportunity to come together and truly put our children first. If divorced parents can unite to calm their children’s fears and guide them, isn’t that truly beneficial to the children? And even without these horrific world events, making time and taking the effort to let children know that they are safe and loved is a very good use of our time, for our children’s present and future sense of security.

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