In “being a parent post-divorce”, we discussed all the different points that can help divorced parents work together in co-parenting their children. But what happens when parents don’t agree and are not able to make joint decisions?
When I work with couples going through divorce, they often ask, “What happens if we disagree with each other?” Couples get very anxious at the thought of having continuing conflicts post divorce.
The first thing I tell them is that many married couples who are far from getting divorced, also disagree on certain issues regarding their children. Disagreements can range from the choice of a school, to how much each parent feels that their 16-year-old daughter should receive as an allowance, as well as a multitude of other issues. How do they work them out? Unfortunately, there is no simple yes or no answer, but there are a variety of ways to work through the differences and reach compromises or satisfactory resolutions.
- Whether married or divorced, some people come to mediation. Discussing the issues in the presence of a neutral third party can help them better understand each other’s reasons, fears, and/or concerns.
- Some people choose to seek a professional. If it’s an education question, they may see a teacher or an education counselor. If it’s a medical issue, they may get opinions from a number of doctors to help them reach a decision.
- In some cases, one parent may decide to take a step back and let the other parent take the lead, trusting that it will be the right decision.
- And, of course, some couples may just battle it out.
In all cases, try to remember that it’s the children who are at the center of this conflict. They should not be privy to or consulted about their parents’ disputes. The best scenario is when the parents are willing to explore different options, which will help them make decisions that are in the best interest of their children.
If some conversations get heated, take a look at a picture of your children. Remember that you both want the best for them, so instead of making it a battle, try and make the conversation productive and positive, for their sake.
Do you have any experiences that might help other parents who are trying to work things out? Please feel free to share those experiences in the “Leave a Comment” box below.
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jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator divorce and family mediation upper east side of manhattan (nyc) new york, ny (212) 472-8626 firstname.lastname@example.org connect on