But They’re Crazy! When You’re Worried About Protecting (Yourself and) The Kids

We often deal with people who are in crisis during their Maryland divorce – sometimes because they are being left, sometimes because they are dealing with a spouse or co-parent that is “crazy.” Unpacking what “crazy” means is tricky. In the throes of divorcing or of a potential custody conflict , once mild behavior can be exacerbated and, of course, sometimes people have true personality disorders or behaviors consistent with them.The concern expressed by our clients at the outset – the s/he’s crazy! – is usually part of an understandable desire to protect themselves or their children from harm. While we are not psychological professionals, we do want what’s best for you and your children. Sometimes that can be taking a step back to look at the big picture or letting time pass, and sometimes that can be a bigger task of putting precautions and professionals in place.

For kids and adults alike, dealing with divorce can be made easier by having mental health professionals in supportive positions for a time. But sorting out what’s in a child’s best interests can be complicated when dealing with a parent who struggles with real mental illness. And showing a judge, in court or otherwise, that your claims are legitimate, when they see so many who toss the term “crazy” around loosely, isn’t always easy. Mental illness is no trivial matter, of course. When the circumstances warrant it, mental health or custody evaluations may be necessary and best interests attorneys for the children may help, too. And very bad behavior can even warrant emergency intervention by the court.

But you need to be clear about what sorts of behaviors you have experienced and are seeing that are worrisome to you. And looking around the internet, while not good for making a diagnosis or for truly reliable information, can help you develop a vocabulary for the behaviors that trouble you (for instance, narcissism is a pretty common issue that crops up in divorce). Try making a detailed list or keeping a calendar of things that cause you concern. This can be helpful to any one of the professionals you might find yourself working with. And be sure to talk to professionals who can help you before it is too late.