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The Parenting Agreement: a Blueprint for the Future

Your children have a lifetime of celebrations in their future.

Don’t let divorce spoil them.

Sometimes couples who would otherwise divorce stay together “for the children’s sake.” While that might be a noble decision made with the best of intentions, the underlying tension or perhaps even outright conflict, can certainly have a negative impact on the children.

But what if there’s a way to dissolve your marriage in a manner that safeguards your children’s emotional well-being? What if you could create a blueprint to follow that would ensure your children will feel loved and connected to both of you, secure and cherished in each household?

When spouses “uncouple” the emotional upheaval makes it difficult for them to see the forest for the trees. Rooted in the pain of the now, uncertain about the future, it’s instinctive to try to hold on to resources, to adhere to an “us” and “them” mentality. But for a happy and healthy life children need to live in an intersection protected from whatever relationship (or lack thereof) their parents have.

No one has a better access to and insight about the effect of divorce on children than a family therapist. Laura Favin, LCSW, a parenting-mediator with the Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation has 21 years experience as a family therapist and parenting educator. She finds a marked difference between couples who choose mediation rather than other forms of divorce. “When their primary concern isn’t about money or retribution but about the children, it offers them an opportunity to come out whole.”

Social worker Michael Shaffran concurs. “If their parents are mature enough to nurture them and love them in spite of divorce, their children will do well.”

But how can mediation help that happen?

Favin credits the comprehensive program offered by Alpha Center “which has been developed with an appreciation for the value of the therapeutic process for people going through divorce.” As a parenting-mediator, she works with couples to understand the unique nature of their children and the challenges of their individual situations create a plan for transitioning the children into separate households and ensuring that they get all the love and support from both parents that they need in the future. Depending on the needs of the children, she can advise the spouses when and what to tell children about their changing relationship. Together, they draft The Parenting Agreement which sets standards for healthy co-parenting.

The agreement addresses not only when and for how long children spend with each of their parents but also guidelines for shared decision-making about the children’s health, education and welfare.

“Mature couples,” says Favin, “understand they may not want to be related to each other but they’ll be related to the children for the rest of their lives.” Of course, the agreement will need to be adapted and adjusted over time. Parents willing and able to remain flexible and cooperate with each other, teach their children those skills by example.

The Agreement also addresses the healthiest way to introduce children to new romantic partners the divorcing spouses may find. “If the children are fortunate enough to see their parents go on to choose other partners and have loving relationships with them with minimum strife and conflict,” says Saffran, “then this pattern will be a helpful model in how to select a mate someday for themselves.”

And what better legacy can parents offer their children than a healthy psyche and a happy heart?

©Stuart Miles | Dreamstime.com

©2016 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation

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