We can make divorce less harmful to children.
We can minimize problems with adjustment.
But to do so we must be emotionally informed.
Custody mediation is a cooperative approach to negotiating custody. While the legal goal of mediation is to negotiate a settlement that forms the basis of a binding legal agreement, one psychological and emotional goal of mediation is to preserve a parental relationship even as a spousal relationship is ending.
The reality is that relationships do not end with divorce, rather they are transformed, often in dramatic ways.
An emotionally informed approach to mediation will include redefining the boundaries of the family relationship. New roles and responsibilities of parents are set forth explicitly, both in relation to children as well as in relation to each other.
Negotiating custody cooperatively enables parents to make their own decisions about what is best for their children while minimizing conflict in the divorce process. In this way, parents are empowered to act together to protect their children’s best interests.
Parenting is Joyful and Stressful
Despite considerable strengths as professionals and parents, it is easy for us to become self-critical and depleted as well as to harbor feelings of guilt, failure, and the sense of not succeeding as parents. The effort to bring one human child to maturity creates profound joy but may also be a source for significant stress.
Stress in parenting may increase as a result of family changes, such as an increase in marital conflict, divorce, a movement to co-parenting, and the blending of families.
Regardless of the parent’s and the child’s psychological situations, parenting skills can falter when a parent is under stress or experiencing other intense emotions.
Factors That Increase Stress During Times of Family Change
Raising a child requires an enormous expenditure of resources. Simultaneously, we, as parents, must confront idealized images of parenthood, motherhood, and fatherhood. We may feel guilty or inadequate as a result of finding that we are unable to live up to the unrealistic standards set for parenting and lifestyle by our culture.
When confronting divorce we may individually find that our child-care burden is higher and our child care resources are lower, due to decreases in support from others and increases in demands of work.
In addition, with less in the way of sustenance and resources we must attempt to balance the demands of parenting with the demands placed upon us as a result of a divorce and the need to take care of ourselves.
If we pay attention, we will notice the way we are experiencing the stress of parenting during difficult times within our bodies, thoughts, and feelings.