Picking Your Battles
Recently, I found myself in front of an Honourable Judge in a parenting and property matter. To the credit of the other party and I, we had reached an agreement on all but one thing – we wanted the changeover place to be changed from the parents’ house to a public place.
After an exchange of submissions and pleadings, His Honour delivered the most refreshing statement that will forever guide me in all family law matters. The sage comment was, “I am not here to give out fairy dust”.
I did not think it was unreasonable to move the change over location to a public place, as it would remove that which was causing a lot of anxiety. I assumed that keeping the parents anxiety free was in the best interests of the children. WRONG! What we were reminded of on the day is that it is not about the parents – it is about the children. Despite the discomfort that the parents might be experiencing, what we must focus on is the discomfort that could be inflicted on the children when we introduce another change into their already challenging lives.
This statement, “I am not here to give out fairy dust” is a frank reminder that we must indeed pick our battles. When we are in a relationship, we are motivated by whatever reason to make our relationship work. We put up with the Rugby blaring on TV and wet towels dropped on the floor; we alternate staying home with a sick child and pick up the children when our spouse has to work late. We work as a team and let the small stuff go. Our healthy relationships are not all Disney and fairy dust and we all make a conscious effort to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ and work as a team.
When the relationship breaks down, we are no longer invested and develop a misconception that we do not have to let go the small stuff. Every challenge becomes an issue and we start doing the other person’s thinking. We become parties to conflicts and the children’s welfare inadvertently suffers. In addition to the emotional distress, once you start using lawyers to fight your battles you will find that your property pool will dwindle just because you could not ‘let it go’.
Issues like schooling, medical decisions, relocations, and religion (to name a few) should be agreed upon, and if you do not agree on such matter, it is reasonable to stand your ground and communicate with respect your views. The lesson from this article: save yourselves some money, and pick your battles. Relationships and parenting is not all fairy dust – its letting the small stuff go and making it work.
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