As a court reporter and Family Life FIX-IT Pro, I have seen the devastating effects of divorce. I’ve said many times the ones who take the hardest hit are the kids. This is yet another example of the losses they experience. Whereas the “fix” seems like a no-brainer, add into the mix an immature adult and kids’ issues become even more complicated. It could be your ex is attempting to get back at you for your recent decision to remarry. Or, it could be his attempt at hanging onto a little part of “home” since it was his decision to reside near the children. It’s a difficult situation, but, again, the kids will suffer the fallout more than anyone else.
Here are a few things to consider in how to proceed from this point:
- Setting the tone. I feel certain you have discussed this issue ad nauseam. I would ask you to revisit your tone, however. When emotions run amuck, we don’t always propose options with our most pleasant approach. Ask for some one-on-one time to discuss all the options regarding the dog. Whereas you can’t control his tone or responses, you can yours. Make sure you remain calm and collected and have structured thoughts.
- No expectations. Go into the conversation with no expectations of his relinquishing the demand to keep the family dog. I hesitate in attaching the label of “immaturity,” but a little stubborn childishness could creep into his thinking. If the issue becomes more about “me” than of “the” children, dog, or you, disappointment is sure to meet any expectation head-on.
- Consider the kids. Talk frankly about the children’s needs. Present to your ex-husband how difficult the divorce has been on them thus far. Be sure to accept your part of the responsibility (even if the divorce wasn’t your idea). Encourage him, in a delicate manner, that it’s time for the adults to keep the best interest of “our” children first and foremost.
- Get a new dog. Propose the idea of his getting a new dog. It could be well received; however, if he has any leftover bitterness from the divorce, it might not. If he refuses, let it be. Do not deliver the dog to him. Have him come and take the dog away from the kids. Then, you and the kids get in your car and head out to your favorite pet store or animal shelter and allow them to pick out the new family dog. They’ll enjoy the freshness of a puppy. After all, what’s not to love about a dog’s eagerness to love a new family, puppy breath and all.
Time heals a multitude of wounds. Kids will mend over the loss of a familiar family dog quicker than they will the loss of Mom and Dad being together. My best advice is for the two parents to adopt user-friendly divorce techniques in all aspects of decisions involving the kids in order to facilitate their healing process. Sometimes one parent refuses to cooperate, leaving the burden of the healing on the other’s shoulders. Prayerfully, for the kids’ sakes, an old dog will teach you both some new tricks.
Struggling with a relationship issue? Write to Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at and find a solution for life.