Current research indicates that one of the most reliable predictors of a child's success after their parents' separation and divorce is how well their parents get along. However, most separated or divorced parents find it quite challenging to peacefully reach common ground with their child's other parent.
Often, despite parents' best efforts to protect them, children see too much, hear too much and feel their parents' simmering anger. Some children get a stomach ache every time they have to travel between their parents' homes; some start to "act out" or withdraw; others may regress to behaviors such as clinging or baby talk.
What should a caring parent do during and after separation or divorce? Even though the parents are no longer married, they need a basic relationship and functional communication capability in the interest of the children.
Recognizing that divorced parents can benefit from professional guidance during this transitional time, a new alternative dispute resolution (ADR) resource known as Parenting Coordination is becoming more widely available. A new Florida statute defines this process and sets forth guidelines for the practice by credentialed mediators, mental health professionals and attorneys, all of whom have specialized training regarding divorce and families.
Working within this non-adversarial ADR framework, parents can reach common ground about child-focused decisions. The Parenting Coordinator provides education and feedback in the interest of the family as well as guidance to negotiate and solve parenting problems.
Parents face many changes and challenges regarding the interpersonal relationships and family dynamics that accompany divorce. As one household becomes two, relationships and boundaries must be redefined within the nuclear and extended family, and new communication patterns must be established to facilitate the healthy growth of parents and children through divorce.
The lives of all family members are touched as parents form new relationships, establish new living situations, and new work schedules. At the same time, the entire family must adapt to children's new schools, new childcare needs, as well as natural infant, child, adolescent and teen development concerns. Extraordinary events such as illness or death create further challenges for the divorced family.
Often, parents have no idea where to turn for help. Now, in Florida, they can utilize the expertise of a Parenting Coordinator.