Fifty-four years after publication, Ayn Rand's magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, has hit the big screen, opening to modest success by independent film standards. It is currently #6 on Amazon, and the "second most influential book for Americans today" according to a Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club survey. Millions of readers from across the political spectrum (including many well-known celebrities) have read Atlas and publicly acknowledge the positive contributions of Ayn Rand's novels to their happiness and pursuit of excellence.
Atlas Shrugged's position on politics, society, and self-interest draws cheers and jeers, and many people part company with the author on various issues. What inspires most fans, and a reason for its enduring popularity, is its noble vision of remaining true to cherished values. It is a vision that divorced parents can embrace to resist powerful temptations to trash an ex.
The novel offers three touchstones for a mindful approach to parenting: 1) the power of reason to guide moral choices, 2) the importance of accepting responsibility for our actions, and 3) the need to remain true to our highest values.
Celebrity divorces offer the most visible examples of parents who suspend reason while indulging destructive impulses. In the process, they sacrifice their children's well being for the momentary relief of blowing off steam. With the Internet archiving, in perpetuity, regrettable embarrassing moments for their kids and peers to read, imagine the schoolyard taunts. "Your Mommy said your Daddy is just a sperm donor." "Your Daddy thinks your Mommy is a poor excuse for a mother."
Even when non-celebrities sling mud away from the pubic eye, but within the kids' view, this leaves an indelible imprint on the children's psyches. Ill chosen words, once spoken, cannot be removed from your child's memory.
The next time you feel tempted to gratify a vindictive desire to humiliate an ex or to voice your disappointment in your former lover, instead act responsibly and let reason and your commitment to your children dominate your choices. Being rational does not mean denying hostile wishes. It does mean finding a way to deal with the feelings without damaging children. It means not allowing hatred for an ex to crowd out more positive, protective and loving feelings for your kids.
Looking back on their behavior during the divorce, many parents regret their words and deeds. Rand's vision of the heroic potential in all of us can inspire parents to stay on the high road. Be the best parent you can be.
Follow Richard Warshak on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RichardWarshak