"Who is Best?" and Why It Falls Short
As soon as the divorce process begins, at the very same time when each parent’s self-esteem is at its lowest point, invariably the question will be asked, “Who is the best parent to raise the children?” It’s difficult to imagine a more untimely question, and will most certainly generate even more anger, fear and distrust. Moreover, the court and attorneys and other family law professionals know that posing the best parent question will likely set the stage for an unnecessary and destructive battle. Yet, the question continues to be asked as though it is a necessary element of divorce. To suggest that either parent may be compared against some standard measurement of parenting and have one declared “the best” is more than outrageous – it’s despicable.
This question is made even more stressful by the fact that at a time when relationships are being dissolved, each parent needs love from all available sources and each will seek to preserve the love of their children. When faced with the prospect of winner take all, or a “parentectomy” as has been coined when a parent has been removed from the life of their children, it’s no wonder that each parent fights as if in a medieval combat for their very life.
Why We Say "Both" Is Best
While there certainly are clear instances where one parent is obviously abusive or fundamentally lacking basic parenting skills, most cases involve two relatively good and loving, though imperfect, parents. In a situation where one parent is truly unfit, or unreasonable, the courtroom doors may be the only option to a binding settlement. If so, there are some basic steps to make sure to retain a lawyer with experience in custody litigation.
However, when parents carefully consider the best interests of their children they will realistically conclude that children will experience both advantages and disadvantages living primarily with one or the other parent. There is equally no question that the needs of children and adult direction change dramatically with age. The special abilities or shortcomings of each parent may be better suited for children of different ages and having both parents continue to contribute to the overall growing process, regardless of who is the custodian) will best serve a child to develop into a well-adjusted adult.