Millions of viewers have been glued to the TV for the second series of ‘Doctor Foster’. Headlines, newspapers articles and interviews have been generated following the final episode. For those not in the know, it was a saga of a divorced couple who continued to forge a war against each other long after the divorce.
Many watched with disbelief the length to which Doctor Foster was prepared to go on a campaign of bitter revenge against her unfaithful husband, who had triggered the breakup of their marriage and family unit, which included the couple’s teenage son. Both Doctor Foster and her ex continued to score points against each other, often using their son as a pawn.
Herein lies the advice/warning/caveat. No matter how bitter, bereft or belligerent a rejected or aggrieved spouse may feel, all the experts say that couples must do their utmost to protect and insulate their children, no matter their age, from their own distress and personal experience.
Easier said than done, one may say. Of course, nothing in life is easy let alone one of the most difficult and emotionally draining experience of a breakdown of a relationship, no matter the reasons or at whose door the fault lies.
Our Family Law Team are used to helping individual parents at the time of greatest stress, through separation, divorce and arrangements for the children. Here are some of our tips for getting through the difficult times:
- Try to remember family life will never be the same for your children post-separation and they will try to remain loyal to both parents as best they can in the circumstances.
- Do your best not to follow Doctor Foster’s behaviour, or indeed that of her ex-husband both of which was less than exemplary.
- Avoid, making disparaging comments of the other parent in the presence of your children. This could simply serve to undermine your children’s relationship with each parent, which underpins their very existence.
- Avoid placing unnecessary anxiety and distress on your children, which can be brought about by witnessing their parents disclosed dislike, or even hatred, of each other laid bare for all to see. In the Doctor Foster series we watched how the teenage child Tom suffered at school. His behaviour was affected, as was his friendships with others as he was gratuitously exposed to and made privy to the private war between his parents, which very quickly became more public.
And the finale in Doctor Foster? Who won? There was no winning by either parent in Doctor Foster. If at all, they were both defeated – they lost their son, who they had managed to alienate while slugging it out. Tom was just about old enough to escape and make a life of his own, to prevent further damage being caused to him by his enduringly warring parents. The damage done may last for many years and into a child’s own adult relationships. We prepared an article on this topic (At what age can a child decide?) if you would like to read more about it.
No matter how difficult it is for you as a mother or a father in a relationship break up, try to think once, twice or even three times about how you speak or behave with the other parent while your children are present.
Dr Foster is warning that the venom expressed to get rid of an ‘ex’ can also have the effect of position your relationship with your children.
If Dr Foster had taken the advice of a good family lawyer, perhaps things might not have ended up as they did. It might have spoiled the drama, but will always help in real life.