The first seven years of my career as a divorce lawyer, I focused on the business-side of the break ups– then I went through my own divorce, and I got to experience first-hand the emotional rollercoaster that so many of my clients experience when they come to see me. The grief cycle takes its toll on the entire family, and the fact is not everyone will be in sync as they go through the series of emotions. So, to put it bluntly, it is normal for everyone to feel out of whack in different ways at different times.
Thanks to my increased involvment in mediation and the Collaborative Process, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most brilliant mental health professionals in the DC Area. These experts have helped me understand the emotional side of the divorce, and helped normalize a lot of crazy behavior that previously made no sense to me. This week, I get to share some of those insights during my interview with Jill Ladd, who was among those recently named by the Washingtonian as a top therapist in our area.
Families going through a divorce are highly likely to experience depression, anxiety, and/or anger while dealing with this situation. Parents need to keep their emotions in check, and try as best they can to keep things stable for their kids. It is not easy, but we need to remember that children are the innocent ones, and they are far more vulnerable and fragile. Fear of the unknown is quite common, and little ones that haven’t experienced much change should be spared as much trauma as possible.
Life post-divorce continues to bring new challenges for these families, and Jill did a great job providing tips for parents as they begin to date and/or blend families. One key point is that just as Rome was not built in a day, you can’t expect a family to restructure itself overnight. We need to give things time, and proceed with caution. Remember, not everyone loves rollercoasters. Some of us have a highly developed built-up tolerance to the ups and downs of life, but many (especially children) prefer a calm ride along a lazy river.
Keeping all this in mind, we can all do our part to better society by encouraging families in transition to be aware of emotions that may be clouding sound judgment. Rather than fuel the fire when a friend, colleague or relative is going through a divorce, we can all try our best to calm things down and encourage the use of external resources as needed. This will also do a great service to the family’s pocket book. As one of my friends pointed out with great dismay in his own nasty divorce, there is a huge transfer of wealth going on– not from one spouse to another, but from his children’s college funds to that of the attorneys’ children. It would be funny if it wasn’t true, but that is the sad reality of many divorce rollercoaster rides when left unattended. Passengers need to beware.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.