Divorce; Positive parenting the Usher way
Recently, Usher Raymond has been in the news for another round in his custody battle with former wife Tameka Foster. I applaud the manner in which this particular celebrity handles the issues surrounding the issues of marriage, divorce and the resultant custody battles. Usher's public image has been positive since the beginning of his career and he brings this positive sensibility to his parenting style portraying himself as a hands-on working parent trying to juggle it all.
Reports state that Usher's son, Usher V was in a near fatal swimming accident at his home while under the care of Usher's aunt and extended family. Thankfully the five year old was pulled out in time and continues to be under observation. Usher's ex-wife Tameka Foster who lost her older son last year in a boating accident appears to have been triggered by the near death experience of her younger son and she reacted by requesting increased control of the co-parenting and custody agreement.
Children of divorce are often caught in the crossfire between parents who need to make an increased effort to parent in a positive manner. Usher was able to accept responsibility for the accident and validate a mother's sense of grief and pain. The judge's official words in this case were "Mr. Raymond, you need to make an increased effort to let your ex-wife know your whereabouts." All mothers (and fathers) need to know where their children are at all time and need to be reassured that they are safe.
"Increased effort" When marriages fall apart there is typically a cutoff in communication as both parties grieve and rebuild. This communication becomes increasingly necessary as children cope with the loss of a family system that they once knew. When we respond to these changes in a proactive manner we reassure children that mom and dad still love each other and their children and that this love is consistent and unconditional. This increased style of communication takes an increased effort over time by all family members. We can demonstrate our feelings both verbally and nonverbally. If children sense that one parent feels negatively towards the other parent, they tend to internalize this negative feeling as they see themselves as an extension of both parents.
As counselors, we help reframe the divorce and custody issue for children by explaining that parents grow and sometimes they grow apart with different needs and that they maintain their roles as parents regardless of the marriage situation. Children need to know that their parents will always be on the same page i.e. whatever is in the long term best interest of their child. When we parent in a positive and proactive manner it reduces the chance of "splitting" which can have negative effects in the future for the child and by extension the parent.
As we cope with changing families we need to take a mindful approach to how we address parenting issues and we can benefit by looking at the positive parenting style of those around us. Sometimes, people need more assistance and they can reach out for help.