Jeff Johnson Writing For the Children

I know that many of you heard the story yesterday about the custody battle between Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry for their¬† four-year-old daughter. Media reports state: “a custody evaluator — a psychologist — wrote the report after extensive interviews with the family and others. The report raised issues not about Gabriel’s ability to love but to care for Nahla, in part because of personal issues.¬† A judge will decide the custody arrangement later this month, and whether Halle gets to move to Paris with Nahla — something Gabriel opposes.”

Now, before we begin to take sides, which countless numbers of people have via social media, we need to look at the bigger picture. It is the very process of taking sides that is a reflection of the challenge that many of us who are trying to co-parent face daily. The challenge where one question is lifted over that of the very welfare of the children we claim to want to love and develop. That question is who is more right.

As the country faces increased divorce rates and more children, especially in our community, are being raised in single parent homes, the notion of co-parenting becomes more and more important. Co-parenting; or separated/divorced parents finding ways to collectively and cooperatively raise children they have brought into the world, is for many more difficult than trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro backwards with a blindfold. We carry as men and women so much pain, anger, shame and regret (did I say anger?) as a result of failed relationships that we can often never see beyond it in the name of providing a healthy space for our children.

Children are like beautiful flowers. They need ideal conditions in order to properly grow, bloom, and mature. What I see so often is parents attempting to fight for the position of greatest provider of light and water. “I can provide for them better than you” or “you can’t love them or address their emotional needs the way I can”. And what we fail to realize is that no matter how true either or any of the statements you can come up with to describe how great you are at parenting, it is secondary to the environment in with the parenting is done. By that I mean you could provide the greatest light since the sun to your babies, and provide care like spring rain, but if the soil that your babies are in is contaminated, all that great light and water still can’t stop the flowers from being infected.

And my beloved family, so many of us are further contaminating the soil even in our well doing.

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