Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The child's "best interests"

I have said, read and written about the "best interests" of my son, C, so many times in the last three days, it's as if the phrase is on repeat in my brain the same way that damn Adele's, "Someone Like You" was stuck last week. And, for the record, I hate that song. If I ever date again, I'll be trying to find a man that is nothing like the STBX. But that's another blog post for another day ...

Anyway, where was I going with this?

What does it mean, exactly, when a parent, lawyer or courts say that something is or isn't in a child's "best interest"? As much as I use this phrase in my day-to-day battles with the STBX, I might only partly know what it means and my opinion is probably (more than likely) at least partially biased given that I grew C inside me, gave birth to him (when was the last time you pushed something the size of a bowling ball out of your vagina?) and subsequently fell in love with him so deeply I suddenly can't breathe whenever I am forced to even think about him being in any sort of harm.

I'm currently at the early stages of visitation disagreements with the STBX. We don't have a court ordered agreement in place yet and it is about to get ugly. In short, I am seeking supervised visitation and I have contingency requests. My ideas of what is appropriate given the circumstances lands me oh say, on the east coast of the continental United States, if you wanted to equate where I am with all of this to a geographical location. The STBX doesn't just want overnights, he wants them to start right away, after months of not seeing our son, and he wants 2-3 nights at a time. This is without disputing my desire for supervision or most of the evidence available supporting my contingencies.  So basically, his ideas of what is appropriate given the circumstances land him, geographically speaking in relation to me, not on the west coast ... not in China ... not even on Mars. He's in another galaxy where the alien life forms he's walking around with raise their alien babies through plate-glass bubbles while machines beat the kiddos with whips.

Needless to say, I've been communicating feverishly with my attorney, with my family and even with the STBX's parents about our one year old son's "best interests" being safeguarded through this process.  Discussions about the mental stability of the STBX have also taken place, along with lots of swearing to myself, stressing and feeling terrified about the possible court battles that lie ahead and forgetting to eat lunch both days so far this week.

Anyway, back to my point. What exactly am I trying to protect? (Oh and pardon me for the randomness in my writing today, but due to the disastrously horrendous timing of the current national drug shortages, my ADHD is totally under-medicated at the moment and stress is high).

I am trying to protect my sweet and sensitive innocent child's "best interests". The best interests of the child. My child. My baby. To me, any pre-verbal child in diapers is still a baby. Call him a toddler if you will, but toddlers are just bigger babies that can walk, climb and get into everything you've thought you baby-proofed.

To start trying to asses what the phrase on repeat in my head actually means, I would have to first argue that yes, my son's rights do necessarily include a loving, stable and supportive relationship with both of his parents; but what may or may not be right doesn't automatically equate to what is in his best interests. Not always, anyway.  And it would seem obvious, to most individuals with some basic parental instinct and common sense, that what is best for the child would trump either parent's desires and needs with regards to their relationships with the child.

Fundamentally, my son's mental, emotional and physical well being is the basic determination of what may or may not be in his "best interests". On a deeper level, his age, maturity, and both intellectual and emotional development impact those basics. No matter how biased I may be as his mother, no one is going to be able to convince me that spending the night away from me, away from his home and stable routines, and ripped from his sense of security at the precious age of 14 months is in his "best interests".

So far, at least the STBX's parents are in agreement with me and with other experts about the potential harm and risks at stake given the current circumstances and C's age, development thus far and his high-needs temperament (I've read the Dr. Sears The Fussy Baby Book so many times, the cover fell off).  Last I heard, the STBX's parents are in the process of sending a retrieval spaceship to whatever galaxy of insane the STBX seems to be residing on these days before things get out of hand.  I anticipate a crash landing.


  1. Oh, I wish you so much luck and strength and support through this. I really do. This must be the toughest part about divorce for parents, something I am lucky enough not to have had to deal with. I know you and SBTX will do what's best for him.

  2. I know that I will try to always do what is best for him. I don't think the STBX will which puts us in an awful predicament. Any time you go to court to resolve a parenting issue, you put the decision making in someone else's hands -- the judge's. Both parents lose any control they might have had prior to going to court. I am terrified that the STBX will continue to be vengeful and self-serving rather than thinking of what is best for our baby :(


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