The goal of PC is to make sure your children survive your divorce. The effect of high conflict on children is well researched and documented. Parental conflict is a significant predictor of mental and behavioural health problems in children.
Divorce produces obstacles and hurdles that, for most divorce kids, complicate our childhoods and continue to impact through our adult lives. Most divorce kids survive despite their parents but all are impacted negatively.
However, some divorce kids have to deal with incredible circumstances. Their parents are not able to separate their parental roles from the conflict prior to or during the separation – often these are the same beast. Some parents continue to be committed to the fight, the win, proving the other parent is less or wrong. I see it often in my PC practice. Parents make ridiculous decisions just to win. For example, refusing to let your child play a sport just because it was the other parent’s idea.
At its worst parents will claim their position as ‘what is best for the children’ when it has nothing to do with the child nor in the child’s best interest. I tell my clients that ultimately you will have to answer to your children for the damage you are doing. Often in high conflict situations the child has to choose their own survival at the cost of their child-parent relationship. In extreme situations, the child gets lost in the divorce the consequences to their entire life can be devastating. There are circumstances where a parent’s personality disorders or mental health challenges add a complexity and that’s a topic that deserves a blog of its own.
Ideally, the goal of PC is to help parents learn to put their kids first and do what it takes to give them a healthy and stable childhood. Parenting Coordinators don’t expect to fix your circumstances. We are looking for behaviour change or at least a change in habits. Of course, in some cases parents are unable to learn or choose not to engage cooperatively. The only option is parallel parenting – the complete disengagement of parenting cooperatively. Basically you parent next to each other but not together.
The affect can be positive if even if one of the parents are able see the link between their behaviour and the consequence to their child. If they can come to understand their role in maintaining the conflict and even selfishly realise what a toll it is taking on them that can be the start in helping them to choose to disengage from conflict. It is very difficult to maintain conflict with someone who refuses to engage!
There are tools, strategies and protocols that can all be adopted or implemented to help reduce the opportunity for conflict. A lot of parenting plans do not have sufficient detail leaving room for different interpretations or opportunity to manipulate the intent. Through Parenting Coordination you can learn strategies for communication and further detail out your current parenting plan to reduce opportunity for conflict. The result is an improved chance for your kids to survive your divorce!