It is said when the word ‘divorce’ is uttered, it makes mountains tremble. It is an act highly disliked by the Almighty (swt), however, it remains an option available for couples when circumstances become unbearable.
Of course, couples should take each and every member of the family into consideration before making any decision. Islam recommends the process of mediation to attempt reconciliation before reaching the final decision of divorce. When the decision to divorce has been made, it will affect every member, either positively or negatively, which in turn affects the society in which we live.
Putting the children first
One of the major priorities to bear in mind will always be their children. Sometimes the parents are so engulfed in the problems they have with each other that the needs of the children are forgotten. The biggest need they have, no matter how old they become, is both their parents. We often see the parents fighting over their children through relentless custody battles, when in fact the struggle should be forgetting their own issues and to aim to be a part of their lives simultaneously and amicably.
Divorce should not be seen as a battleground. Parents should attempt to make this already difficult transition as smooth as possible for the children, which of course, is something much easier said than done. At times, we see couples divorcing each other for the sake of the children, as a bitter relationship between two people is something they don’t want their children to see. However, their nature towards each other during and post-divorce tends to cause more damage to the children in the long run.
Another problem that affects children is character annihilation. Parent [A] will pit their child against Parent [B]. They will criticise the other parent, oblivious of the detrimental effects this poses psychologically. This is wrong for many reasons; it distances the child from their parent, it makes them feel negatively towards them, it destroys the bond and aside from all that, it counts as a form of backbiting, which is abhorred in Islam. By talking negatively about their other parent, you are conditioning the child to think it’s acceptable to talk about other people and it can become a habit.
When young children hear this, it can make them harbour negative feelings that they may or may not be able to overcome and these feelings tend to come to the surface later on in life. When taking younger children into consideration, parents need to remember their minds are like a sponge. They will absorb the positive and negative energy surrounding them. Words and actions will be stored as schemas in their minds. Anything negative or damaging can become manifested in their own character and personality. In the same way they watched their parents manipulate them against the other, they too may take on this trait, affecting their future relationships with their siblings and others.
A key word to bear in mind is respect
Couples should always respect one another, especially in front of their children. It will be difficult but this in turn teaches the children to respect their family members. Just because the marriage has come to an end, it does not mean there is no need to respect the other anymore. Indeed, the need has increased even more so, especially for the sake of the children. The issue of pride and ego becomes apparent when the parents are unable to behave reasonably with each other. This needs to be overcome in order to prevent the damaging effects to the children. They don’t need to be told negative attributes about their parents, and they don’t need to feel obliged to pick a side or feel like a burden. There is a rise of children and teenagers deceiving their parents, because they are well aware of the communication gap. This can be avoided if parents are still able to communicate well with each other and are both well involved in the upbringing of the children.
Free will vs. pre-destiny
The typical question when couples with children divorce, is always ‘why are they divorcing after x number of kids?’ or ‘why didn’t they realise they couldn’t make it work before having children?’
Firstly, every child is a gift from the Almighty (swt). Secondly, each and every child born has a purpose. They may be the main support the parent needs at the time of the divorce or later on in life. When we ask questions like the above, we are questioning the divine wisdom of the Almighty (swt).
There is free will and there is pre-destiny. Maybe the divorce was already written for the couple as their test. The free-will part? That is how they go about taking their decisions and they way in which they treat their counterpart, or others around them.