Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but we know that for some it is a lonely, regretful time, remembering the sorrows of seasons past.
In homes divided by separation and divorce, the areas of conflict arise from the dynamics of struggling to ensure you see your children, and the difficult discussions between former spouses about sharing their children’s holiday time.
When former spouses remarry and introduce new partners into the family, it is not unusual to hear complaints of resentment and recrimination focused on the new stepmother or stepfather.
Perhaps one of the most annoying irritants is hearing 8-year-old Johnny call his father’s new partner “Mom”. An unkinder cut is hard to imagine for newly divorced parents.
One parent was so disturbed she asked a judge to intervene to stop her young son from calling her ex-husband’s fiancee “Mom”. She was also opposed to her ex’s girlfriend having increased input into her son’s life.
In this case the parents shared legal custody but Johnny lived primarily with his father. New Jersey Judge Lawrence Jones found that both parents and father’s fiancee contributed to Johnny’s well-being, but noted that while the fiancee’s opinions were welcome, it was up to Johnny’s biological parents to make decisions for Johnny.
However, the Judge declared that it was up to Johnny to decide how he wished to refer to his parents and his father’s fiancee, mainly because the young boy was mature enough to decide for himself. The Court said:
“At this challenging point in his growth and development, he certainly does not need his parents, or a stepparent, or the court, hoisting further unnecessary burdens upon his fragile shoulders by micromanaging his words and thoughts, or commanding him how to address his stepparent in order to please his mother or father.”
I’m sure Johnny’s mother thought the decision was unfair to her, but the reality is that it is not about her feelings, it’s about her son’s self-determination and development.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang