Set Your Kids Free on Independence Day

I’m back. Did you miss me? Thank you for being so patient with my absenteeism from the blog the last two or three weeks.

My dad had knee replacement surgery and my mom doesn’t really drive anymore. Don’t ask me why. That one I can’t answer. So, I went to stay with them for six days as they live two and half hours from me and mom needed a way back and forth to the hospital (which is 45 minutes each way from their house). They live in a very small town in the country. No internet service at the house. And only sporadically at the hospital. Just enough to be able to keep on top of email really.

How’s my dad? Thanks for asking! 🙂 He’s doing pretty well. Home health comes out to the house for a nurse to check on him and a physical therapist does his PT. I really hope this helps him to have less pain. He’s suffered for years with his knee.

I got back home over the weekend, just in time for my own surgery on that Monday. It was an outpatient surgery. I got there at 6am and was home by 1pm. Not bad. Surgery went well. My sister stayed at my house with me the first few days. Don’t know what I’d do without her. Thank you sis!

That first day I was in bed mostly. The next two days I was gradually getting better. Then Thursday hit with a sonic boom. I could have cried all day, I felt so badly. Only reason I didn’t was because I would have been in pain, feeling horrible AND stopped up from all the nasal …well, I”m sure you get it. I guess that was the full third day after surgery so it was normal I felt so rotten.

It’s been an adjustment. I have good days and bad days. And days I just have no freakin’ energy. But I’ve started to get my life back a little. At least I feel up to writing again. Lucky you! LOL  Just kidding. It’s really lucky me! Writing keeps me sane. Well, as sane as I’ll probably ever be anyway.

So, am I ever going to get to the main point of this post which is supposed to be about co-parenting? Ummm…yeah.

You see, I had a lot of time to think while I was at the hospital with my parents and then recovering from my own surgery. I’m so thankful we have a family that loves and cares for each other and helps each other out.

Unfortunately, when parents divorce, this isn’t always the case for the children involved. So, I think it’s about time that those children be set free. And how fitting to discuss it while celebrating independence and freedom in our country.

I, of course, do not mean you should set the kids free to run amok; but, they should be set free from the negativity between two feuding parents.

While I was reflecting on my blessings, I also thought about all those cases (not one or two, but MANY) over the years in which parents so hated each other, that the kids were forced to endure revolting behavior from one or both  of their gene donors. And those past cases (which translate to living, breathing kids for me) basically  ticked me off.

Now those of you who have learned to put aside your differences and think of your children first, probably can’t imagine not telling the other parent when their child is in the hospital because of illness or an accident. Or, not letting your child visit the other parent who may be in the hospital.

But I’ve seen these nasty deeds committed by several parents over the years. If your child is sick or hurt, they’re probably scared. They probably need comfort from not just mommy but daddy, too (and vice versa).  They need to know both parents (and relatives from both sides of the gene pool)  love them and care about them.

What’s even worse is those parents who don’t tell the other parent and then imply or outright tell the child, that the other person didn’t care enough about them to show up. How much of a sociopath do you have to be to do that? I truly believe there is a special place in Hell for parents who do things like this to their kids.

When their parent is in the hospital, the child is going to be scared and worried. They have every right to be taken to the hospital to see their mother or father. If nothing else this would set aside any unwarranted fears. (I’m not going to talk about worst case scenarios here as that could be a minefield to tread through at this point plus I personally don‘t want to think about it right now.)

Just as bad as not telling the other parent about their child being hospitalized is for the parents and/or extended family members/significant others to get into arguments, physical assaults and generally cause a hellacious scene at the hospital.  (Yep, I’ve been involved with people who have done this and been thrown out of the hospital and/or arrested all in front of their poor sick kids.) Real mature folks. Let’s leave the fireworks for celebrations.

This is a critical time for your child. He or she needs your combined love and support as much as, if not more than, any time in their lives. So tell the other parent IMMEDIATELY if your child should have a problem that lands them in the hospital. And for heaven’s sake, act like two mature adults who care more for their child than they do about getting back at the other parent. Don’t make rude or snide comments. Don’t place blame. You don’t have to like each other. But you do have to support each other as parents.

If the hospitalized child has a sibling, work out who that child will stay with in a reasonable and civil manner. Boo hoo if it’s not that parent’s access period. If the other parent lives close enough, he or she needs to step up, offer to take the other child(ren) to make certain their needs — education, activities, etc. are met and that they don’t feel abandoned. And the other parent should agree graciously.

Now I want to make one thing clear for this post. My opinions have been based on assuming both parents are able to have unsupervised access with the child. Even if the parent is ordered no unsupervised access, most likely he or she still has a right to know about medical emergencies. If you’re in doubt because of specific orders in your case, then contact your attorney at the very first opportunity to get legal advice. That’s what you pay them for.

Some of you probably think that this really couldn’t have happened a lot. But based on 20 years of working with families, I can say that unfortunately that these scenarios have played out numerous times.

So I’m asking that while thinking about our country’s independence and  freedom(s), please think about liberating your children. Let them grow up in both your homes knowing they can count on each of you to love them enough to respect each other.

Happy July 4th everyone! And, here’s to all of you awesome co-parenting parents out there! You’ve given your children a true gift. 🙂


*NOTE: Here’s my typical disclaimer for these posts–I am not an attorney. These opinions are mine alone and are based on my years of experience working within the family court system. They are not meant as legal advice nor as representative of anyone else’s opinion. If you need legal advice (and I believe if you’re involved in child custody litigation, you really do),  please consult with an attorney.

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The award-winning author of THE CONSUMING, and the zombie apocalypse series, SURVIVAL. She writes horror/sci-fi, paranormal, YA urban fantasy, suspense, and middle grade.

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10 Responses

  1. Alica

    It is heartbreaking to watch a child being used as a weapon between parents. Thanks for your post.

  2. Catie Rhodes

    This was an interesting post. The older I get, the more surprised I am at the behavior of “adults.” We’re old enough to know better, but we do it anyway.

    Resentment is something that can take over your life. It’s difficult to step back and say, “Okay. she/he *did* do xyz to me. Nevertheless, I am going to act like a grownup and treat others as I would like to be treated.” It takes a lot of soul-searching to get to that point, and a lot of people are too busy to do it.

    Thanks for this thought provoking topic. I hope both you and your father make complete recoveries from your surgery. ((hugs))

  3. Patricia Yager Delagrange

    Wow! It’s so hard on the kids. And the kids are literally pawns of the parents involved. I completely agree with you. The parents have to put their feelings for each other aside and place the child in the forefront.

  4. Angela Wallace

    Glad you’re back, Rhonda! 🙂 Parents can do horrible things to their children, and not just those who are divorced. I wrote a short story a couple years ago based on a true story, but when my class read it, a handful of them said a father would never do that to his kid. Yeah, truth is stranger than fiction, right?

    • Rhonda Hopkins

      Thank you Angela! Glad to be back. Yep, they can certainly do horrible things. I also worked at CPS for 9 years before going to the family courts. It’s really sad what some kids have to suffer through. I’ve heard that a lot “a mom (or dad) would never do that!” Uhhh…yeah, they do. I’m glad you stopped by. Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. I hope you have a great 4th of July! 🙂

  5. Christine Ashworth

    Welcome back, Rhonda! I hope you feel better very soon. My dad had a knee replacement at the age of 81, and within a couple of months was back to normal – but without pain, so I hope it works out for your dad.

    I consider myself very fortunate in that my parents stayed married and in a loving union until my mother’s death (54 years). As I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, it was divorce hell for many of my friends.

    I’ve been married for 31 years, and my kids are 20 and 17 – we’re all still one big happy. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for my relationships.


    • Rhonda Hopkins

      Thanks Christine! Each day I’m better. Dad’s 77 so he’s close to the age when your dad had it. He’s doing better every day as well. 🙂 Congrats on being one of the “big happy” families. I know you and your husband both had to put a lot of work into it. Marriage and families are not easy. I think many have forgotten that it takes work along with the fun to maintain a commitment like that. (Of course there are those that really shouldn’t be together, but it’s Tuesday and I don’t have to think about them today.! ) Congrats again and best wishes for many more years to come. Hugs!