She felt sick to her stomach and ran to the restroom. She was embarrassed as she bumped past her third grade classmates. Her cheeks were tear-stained when she made it to the nurse’s office. “I just threw up and I don’t feel good.” The nurse took her temperature revealing a fever.
“Ms. Smith? This is Nancy, the school nurse. Rebecca just threw up and is running a fever. Are you able to come pick her up?”
“I am. But today is her dad’s day. I can come get her, but you should call him first.”
“Mr. Smith? This is Nancy, the school nurse. Rebecca just threw up and is running a fever. Are you able to come pick her up?”
“I can’t be there for a few hours. I have a meeting at work.”
“I spoke with Ms. Smith and she is able to pick up Rebecca.”
“No. It is not her day. Rebecca will have to wait.”
“Hey Randy – Why does your mom stand by the door? Why doesn’t she sit on the bleachers with our parents?”
“She says it isn’t her day.”
“Dad, can I call mom and tell her about my spelling test?”
“No. You can tell her Wednesday when you see her again.”
Legally, these parents are within their right to assert their positions and take the actions. These parents were objectively correct, but actually wrong. Many parents fail to understand what the “best interests of the child” means. Some parents believe it is about who the better parent is. Some parents believe it is about who is right and who is wrong. Some parents believe it is about following a parenting plan with rigidity.
What if these parents instead shifted their focus to their child’s feelings? What if the best interests of the children was served by parents putting their feet in their children’s shoes and looking at how their “right” position made their children feel? If the desired outcome is happy and well-adjusted children post-divorce, what would it be like if this was the focus?
When exercising flexibility, openness, and compassion your desired outcome may actually become your reality. And we are all the better for it.