My Christmas wish is that separated and divorced parents try to remember the love they once shared.
If nothing else, it was a love that gave them a precious gift – their kids.
I received a birthday card from my ex when I turned 50, with a message inside that thanked me for a “life of love and support”.
”We have come a long way together, even when we’re not together,” he noted.
There have been many tough moments during the pain of our separation, but we’ve always been conscious that parenting is a challenging job, with two heads – and hearts – being better than one.
We also decided that our children should be left out of our adult battles. They need to have a healthy relationship with both their parents.
My heart breaks – especially at this time of year – for people whose lives have been shattered by parental alienation.
My former colleague Corinne Barraclough wrote about her own devastating experience with parental alienation earlier this month, noting “Christmas is coming: there are alienated parents desperate to see their children – uncles, aunts, grandparents who would love to give their related little ones a hug and tell them they love them. Children are not weapons.”
I was unsettled this week by news reports about Karl Stefanovic’s family woes.
I’m not a Karl fan. He’s done some pretty dumb things over the past few of years. But I watch how his divorce has played out and I worry for his kids.
While it must have been distressing for them when he left their mum, that was almost two years ago now. The wounds should be starting to heal.
But adults – and the media – keep picking at the scabs, so they’re staying raw.
His kids run the risk of being pretty messed up by the conflict and furor that’s constantly around them.
Whimn gleefully wrote an article last week called “An Open Letter To Karl Stefanovic: It’s Not Us, It’s You”.
It said: “Now, it should be noted here, Stefanovic’s giddy school boy behaviour is not the problem. Live and let live, and all that.”
But then, the next sentence, sniped: “The problem lies more in his failure – and apparent nonchalance – to hide his new fling, while those affected were so clearly still hurting.”
OK, he’s been pretty out there with his relationship. Not the best look. But how the hell is a public figure being constantly stalked by the paparazzi supposed to “hide his new fling”?
He’s also since married the “new fling”, which makes her the stepmother to his children.
At what point is he allowed to stop hiding? At what point is she no longer the “new fling”?
One third of Australian marriages end. In many Western countries the figure climbs to almost 50%.
When you’re famous, your marriage tends to end in a very public fashion.
Yes, Karl could have handled it better, but what’s done can’t be undone.
At what point has Karl been punished enough to satisfy his ex wife and the rest of Australia. And what business is it of ours anyway?
How many more pounds of Karl’s flesh are required before we’re satisfied?
When will his children be given the chance to adjust to their new family dynamic?
Over at Kidspot, Alex Carlton wrote an article titled “Dear Cassandra Thorburn, for the sake of your children – you need to stop”.
Carlton noted: “You’re really, really angry at your ex, Karl Stefanovic. And perhaps you have every right to be. You’ve told us how you shouldered the entire household load while your husband became a big TV star. You’re hurt and humiliated that he’s moved on so quickly with someone younger than you. You think he’s a ridiculous, egocentric, pathetic twit.
“And maybe he is.
“He’s also your kids’ dad.”
She goes on to say “I’m sure it’s not entirely a bed of roses for them as they watch him form a new family with someone else.
“But your job is to help make it easier for them … Give your kids space and permission to love him. Show them that the most important thing in their lives is having a wonderful relationship with the two people who love them best – you and Karl.
“Hell, I’m not saying you won’t have to grit your teeth to do it … It’s time to stop your subtle and not-so-subtle efforts to make your kids choose sides. You may not even realise you’re doing it but your insistence on ‘reports’ back from his wedding, your drawing of ‘me vs him’ lines, you airing your hurt and fury in public is going to tear your kids apart.
Carlton discusses the fact her own mother – whose famous husband left her – knew that whatever her feelings were for her ex-husband, her kids had a right to love both their parents.
“And because of that, my brother and I have strong, happy, healthy relationships with everyone in our family.”
She also points out the signs of parental alienation. Christmas is a pretty tough time for parents whose ex partners have alienated them from their kids following divorce.
I’m with Corinne and Alex: children are not weapons.
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. – Calvin Coolidge