Divorce and Children/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on October 28, 2010

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At the begining of Parshat Chaye Sarah, we read that when Abraham was elderly he was blessed with “everything”. Rashi questions the meaning of “everything”. What was the nature of Abraham’s blessing. The answer offered by Rasi is that Abraham had a son. (Another interpretation is that he had a daughter.) A question posed on this Rashi, is that at this time, Isaac was already 37 years old. Why does the Torah therefore see fit to remind us that the elderly Abraham was blessed with a child. This news was already 37 years old!

I heard an explanation that offers insights into our universal role as children. When a parent is young, they are active and parental. They do much for their children. Upon advanced old age, the parent can often not be a “giver”, they must now “receive” from their children. They may need medical care, personal attention, physical comforts, etc. They depend on their children. The parent-child role has now become reversed. This is now the time for the blessing of a concerned and involved child. Only when the parent reaches this fragile time of life, can we determine if the blessing of a child has been realized.

Many of us belong to the “sandwich generation”. We are both parents and children. The way we treat our parents will likely color our own children’s subsequent behavior to us. If we give the blessing of concern and care to our own parents, we will likely receive the same as we age. This is the true blessing that Abraham enjoyed in his advanced age. May we merit the same.

The obligation to children, from parents, is likewise significant. In divorce, how can one consider the needs of children?  How does one protect their children from the inevitable pain of divorce? The answer is to pursue amicable and civil divorce. Litigation will exacerbate the hurts children feel. Confrontation can never be a positive development , although sometimes it is required. Mediation will resolve many of the hurts caused by divorce. The choice is clear; if you care about your children’s feelings, or potential hurts, mediate don’t litigate.

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