“He went on to tell me that the daughter had been caught between her parents in a bitter divorce and post-judgment motions case that had been going on for years…I’d like to show [this situation] to parents who fail to see the big picture and say to them: “See —look at what can happen—this could be your child in a few years if you keep it up.”
It is a well-recognized truth that children usually suffer the most from the fallout of their parents’ divorce. Most people will acknowledge that fact in theory, but also fail to recognize how their own behaviors are negatively affecting their kids.
Perhaps the most glaring example that I ever saw occurred a few years back when I was sitting on juvenile criminal cases. As the next case was called, a transport team brought in a young woman from the local juvenile detention facility, wearing a prison jumpsuit and handcuffs. She was charged with the latest in a series of drug-related criminal probation violations. Unlike many of the teens I saw in that situation she was well groomed, attractive and intelligent.
Her parents came in from the back and each took a position at the opposite end of the front row of the audience seating, glaring daggers at each other the whole time. The juvenile probation officer (in whom I had lots of confidence and who generally did not recommend jail in such cases) asked for a full revocation of her probation, which would result in her being in juvenile detention until age nineteen.
I was surprised by his recommendation and asked for an explanation. He explained that the corrections system had tried many different types of drug treatment and less restrictive options, including outpatient and in-patient residential care, but nothing had worked and that he was “out of options.”
He went on to tell me that the daughter had been caught between her parents in a bitter divorce and post-judgment motions case that had been going on for years. He explicitly said it was his opinion that the daughter’s problems were the direct result of the way her parents had handled their divorce.
Probation was revoked, and the daughter separately hugged each parent before she was led away. I have often wished that I had a video of that very short but very sad hearing. I’d like to show it to parents who fail to see the big picture and say to them: “See —look at what can happen—this could be your child in a few years if you keep it up.”
I cannot imagine that any responsible parent would want that result for their child. You have to see the forest through the trees. Will it really matter if you get one week more of vacation time each year, if the cost of achieving that victory is a substance-abusing child who is jailed because there are no other better choices?
Senior Policy Advisor