The importance of picking your battles with a co-parent

Divorced co-parents don’t always see eye-to-eye on the appropriate ways to raise their children. In fact, that may be an understatement. There have been numerous examples of parents taking one another to court over differences in religious beliefs and even whether the child is allowed to get his or her ears pierced.

Of course, big issues like religion are more likely to justify a court dispute than smaller issues. Not only is going to court expensive, it can also be emotionally traumatic for children who are asked to testify on behalf of one parent. A recent case is an example of a less-than-justifiable reason for going to court over child rearing disagreements. It didn’t occur here in Missouri, but it may sound familiar to Missouri parents struggling over shared child custody.

Recently, a New Jersey man took his ex-wife to court for allegedly abusing her parental discretion and being a bad parent. The supposedly horrendous act of child endangerment she committed was taking their 11-year-old daughter to a P!nk concert (the exclamation point is not a typo). The father argued that exposing the child to this concert environment could potentially traumatize her and put her in harm’s way.

The judge apparently didn’t buy it, especially after speaking with the girl privately. He wrote a 37-page decision responding to the father’s complaint. According to news sources, the judge ruled that the mother “in no way, shape or form exceeded the boundaries of reasonable parental judgment” by taking her daughter to the concert. He added that “her decision did not subject the child to any unreasonable risk of harm, or compromise [the child’s] health, safety or welfare.”

There are very legitimate reasons to go to court over a co-parent’s child-rearing practices, but attendance at a tame rock concert is not one of them. Before getting courts involved, parents should consider a number of factors, including whether going to court is doing more harm to their children than the offending parental behavior.

Source: Jezebel, “Subjecting Children to P!nk Not a Sign Of Bad Parenting, Judge Rules,” Mark Shrayber, April 26, 2015

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