Keeping Conflict Low During A Divorce
When contemplating a divorce or separation, most parents start out determined always to do what’s best for the children. But as the process begins, emotions sometimes get the best of all of us, leading to hostility and anger. Sometimes, even if you intend to cooperate as best as possible, you may have a coparent who creates conflict, particularly regarding visitation issues. When that happens, it’s good to know where you can turn for professional help in learning to communicate and coparent constructively.
My guest on Divorce Dialogues, Risa Garon, is a clinical social worker with a solution for parents. She is the co-founder and executive director of the National Family Resiliency Center. She and her staff at the center work to educate the courts, legal and mental health professionals, and parents on staying focused on the needs of children during a divorce. By educating everyone on the grief process and its interplay with child development, Risa helps divorcing parents keep conflict low, make child-focused decisions, work together constructively, and build better co-parenting relationships.
In two earlier posts, The Best Decisions for Your Children During Divorce & Preventing High Conflict from Impacting Children During a Divorce, we discussed Risa’s child-focused decision-making model and how parents can make the best choices for their kids. In today’s post, we’ll discuss how you can reduce conflict and build a better co-parenting relationship by keeping the best choices for your children in mind.
- Be flexible and cooperative.
Stuff happens. Sometimes you’ll need to adjust the schedule or work together to solve problems for your children. Kids get sick, and adults get sick, unexpected family emergencies happen, and unscheduled work trips occur. It can be easy to become upset when you feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick, or your coparent interferes with your parenting or planned solo time. However, if you and your coparent keep your child’s needs in mind, being flexible can become so much easier. After all, you both want what’s best for your kids.
- Keep your decisions child-focused.
Visitation can often cause conflict between coparents. It can be easy to get caught up in who has the best time with the kids and whether other activities interfere with “your” parenting time. It’s important to remember that the time you spend with your child is also your child’s time. Your kids still need to live their lives, be involved in activities or school, and have a social life, whether they’re with you or your coparent. Keeping your kids away from birthday parties or little league games because it’s interfering with your time won’t help build a better long-term relationship with your children. So, keep your kids’ needs in mind when setting the agenda for your parenting time.
- Don’t escalate the conflict.
Risa shared with us that one parent or one professional often can help lower tensions, calming things down rather than “fanning the flames” of a conflict. “I think if mental health professionals, judicial officers, attorneys, and mediators can be trained and understand child development, I think that can reduce a lot of the conflict and address the best interest of children.”
- Seek professional help.
During a divorce, it can be challenging to learn to communicate with your ex in a productive way that doesn’t cause conflict around visitation and holiday time. If you and your coparent struggle to do this, a professional can help you learn. As Risa discussed with us, her team does a lot of this work at the center:
- If there’s something that we can suggest is that parents learn to put aside their adult relationships. We often say wrap it up in a paper bag and put a rubber band around it. Bring out some pictures of your children and show us and tell us about your children. Often you begin to see the parents soften when they talk about their children, and you see their love. And you can begin to tie in some of the strengths they share, some of the common views and beliefs they have.
By staying focused on your children and working with professionals when needed, you can work together to make communication around visitation issues more pleasant for you, your ex, and your children.
We are here to help!
You can find Divorce Dialogues on alternate Wednesdays from 5:00 to 5:30 on WVOX 1460AM.
If you’re looking for a low conflict approach for your divorce, that protects you, your children and your dignity, we can help. Reach out to Miller Law Group for more information, or call us at (914) 256-8997.