Sally misses the ball, laughing at her older brother who had tossed it crooked on purpose. Dan jogs into the waves to retrieve it for his kids, to avert a quarrel – although hey, these days there have been no hard words or arguments between them. Not for ages. He glances up the beach to see Susan still sitting reading under the beach umbrella. Good to see her relaxing, he thinks, she really needed this holiday.
Idyllic portrait of the perfect family at play?
Well, believe it or not, Dan and Susan divorced 3 years ago and have this type of family vacation once a year. They are a part of a new, but hopefully growing breed of separating parents who are arguably establishing a ‘new normal’ for family life post separation. Divorce does not have to be the ‘failure’ of past generations, something of which to be ashamed and the source of high anxiety. New divorce, or 21 st century divorces, can be kinder and more compassionate. Ones where partners can learn to walk in the other’s shoes, and where parents re structure, together, their relationships to meet a goal that the family will be preserved and quality relationships between parents and children a reality.
To do this however, they need help.