Children and Divorce

This has been a strange month. No less
than three times I was asked advice about protecting children from
effects of divorce. Once it was grandparents seeking help with the
issue because they were given custody by the court !

 

As divorce and seperations become more
frequent reality of a changing society, we need to have a clear
knowledge of protecting children from the emotional holocaust.

 

Many times I see couples who have
decided to go their own ways for their own reasons and want a stable
future for their children. Fact is – no matter how well you do it,
children will have trouble. Afterall they NEED both parents.

 

We can take some precautions to limit
the damage –

 

  • Be aware that children KNOW
    something is wrong. Do not keep telling them ” everything is going
    to be alright”. It will just make them more suspicious of you.Tell
    them clearly that things are not going well and it will take a while
    to get everything sorted out.
  • Don’t forget to let them know
    again and again that it is not their fault that you are seperating.
  • When finally you decide to move
    away into different houses, let kids know who goes where.
  • Do not go overboard with your
    promises about time to be spent with them, vacations, pocketmoney,
    etc. Promise only what is definitely possible for you month after
    boring / stressful month. This is very important as parent living
    away feels pressured to promise heaven just to be in kid’s good
    books and then come up with un- believable excuses.
  • Remember that you two have
    difference of opinion and kids have nothing to do with it. If kids
    make some choices, unfavourable to you, don’t hold it against them
    forever.
  • Do not outsource your childcare
    responsibilities to grandparents / friends/ neighbours / new spouses
    etc.

 

If you are the parent living away there
are some important things-

 

  • Do not undermine decipline of
    their permanent home.
  • Do not waste your breath to talk
    nasty things about your ex-spouse.
  • Do not spoil kids with material
    things and luxuries in whatever little time you get with them.
    Remember they are YOUR kids and whatever damage you do to them, will
    come home after a while.

 

Some common points-

  • Don’t expect kids to like your new
    partner / spouse straightaway. Do not force them to call your new
    spouse by – daddy / mummy names. It can just mess things up.
    “Aunty / Uncle” is also a no-no. First name is nice and
    personal.
  • Be aware that kids can take you
    for a ride by telling horror stories about your ex-spouse. Do not
    believe everything they say !!

 

Now go ahead and enjoy that hard earned
fredom.

Moving Continents and Cities too.

Moving Cities / Continents

 

Last week in a get together,
a friend got talking. He was very worried about his children’s future in India.
He was re-thinking about his move to India from US.

 

Main concerns were- quality
of education, effect of other children’s behaviour, change in accent, health
and physical environment (in city).

 

His tone was of worry and I
could empathies with him, having made a move to India more than a year ago.

Many families move a great
deal now. Some move continents and some move within India from state to state.
Moves within India can also be quite stressful due change of language, food and
culture.

 

Let’s look at this issue one
by one –

1.   Quality of education – First of all let me make clear
that in spite of my multiple degrees and excellent academic record, I am not a
great fan of education (at least till secondary school level). What one really
learns from school till age of 15 is- the process of learning, social skills
and self-discipline. These three issues should be bedrock of education till age
of 15.

Most
city schools of present days are far better equipped than the school we went to
as children. Proponents of American, British or any western school will realize
that in such schools, emphasis is on creating good environment for learning. If
you can help your child to stay out of the rat-race mentality, they will face
the world readily no matter which school they go to.

While
choosing a school some things to remember are – no. Of children in each class (
at the most 35), staff turnover rate of the school, proximity to your home,
availability of playground, attitude of school towards rat-race and of course
affordability.

2.
Effects of other
children’s behaviour – Children learn a great deal from other children of their
age group. That has its advantages in language development, sports activities
and social skills. Most apartment complexes in modern Indian cities have dozens
of kids and that helps in finding playmates. Children moving in from western
countries often find it difficult to adjust with Indian kids who can be quite aggressive
on play ground and have very loose personal boundaries and ideas of ownership (
they think it’s okay to use other’s toys/ bicycle without permission and not
bother with excuse me/ please and thank you). As a parent we can always model
good behaviour for our kids and that has a longer lasting effect than that of
other kids’ behaviour

3.
Change in accent
/ language – in an increasingly mobile world, being multilingual is a great
advantage. There is some evidence that people using different languages (with
different grammatical structure) have better problem solving abilities. What
better place to learn languages than our melting pot cities?

4.
Health &
Physical environment – With high levels of pollution, overcrowding, limited
open spaces and traffic, Indian city is not an ideal place for a child to grow.
This is one point I cannot argue with and it is really your call. Fortunately
for the affording class, healthcare facilities are good in India. Where else in
the world you can find a doctor at the other end of a mobile phone at all
hours?

 

 

Real issue is- how
comfortable are YOU with the move? If parents are at peace with them and find
their work and life more satisfying after the move, it will reflect greatly on
their mood, interactions and overall family life. Happy parents bring up happy
kids.

 

Ultimately, it is not about
kids. It is about how you cope with change. In my experience with tens of such
families around me, kids have always coped a lot better than their parents!!

Happy Diwali to all readers

Wish you all a very Happy Diwali and a Great New Year.

Make sure that your kids are safe around fire crackers. My family has decided to do away with noisy fire crackers this year. We plan to use only visually spectacular stuff.

Buying crackers was an exercise in budgeting and maths. Kids did not like it one bit, but you can not please everybody.

I hope to write more regularly this year. Let me know what you want on this blog.

I have tried a new minimalist look. What do you think?

take care and have a great festive season.