Jan 4, 2023
Children and Extended Family: Importance of Family Preservation
One of the main goals of the Alpha Center’s divorce mediation program is to help families with children avoid the emotional toll of divorce. When parents feel compelled to attempt to settle their divorce differences through litigation, children and other family members feel obligated to take sides. Any chance for settling things amicably is lost and divorce etiquette by the extended family on both sides becomes ugly. This can cause high levels of anxiety, fear, anger, and depression to the participants as well as the observers, which often remains once the divorce has been settled. By choosing Alpha to assist with your divorce, a family will be better situated to make a healthy transition to what lies ahead.
Michael Routh, an Attorney at Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation, provides tips for families with children to avoid the emotional toll of divorce.
The first step in Alpha’s divorce mediation program is for the parents to meet with a parenting mediator to develop a parenting plan. The parenting plan usually outlines the physical custody arrangement as well as providing tactful suggestions for both parents to assist with co-parenting in the years to come. The goal is to help foster this co-parenting relationship, so the parents remain amicable and provide a means for each party be a part of all future major life events. Working together to raise the children creates a healthy environment for all the participants. Additionally, a cooperative example helps the extended family members such as grandparents or aunts and uncles maintain their relationship with the children as well. If Mom and Dad are showing the ability to continue to work together regarding the children, despite their differences, these extended family members will not feel bound to choose sides. Thus, the children receive the benefits of this stability from the relationships with these extended family members.
Unfortunately, the common perception of divorce is that both parties share a common dislike for each other and thus create a toxic environment. I have been blessed to discover through my own divorce experience and my work as an attorney mediator with the Alpha Center, this is not necessarily true. It has been my experience as a divorced parent, if Mom and Dad decide to make the future about loving and mutually supporting their children, then they can preserve the family for the children despite their relationship ending. Although, this sounds like a difficult task, through forgiveness and lots of communication, this goal can be achieved.
In 2012, when my ex-wife and I decided to separate, we placed our children’s well-being in the forefront above our individual needs. As a result, not only have our children prospered, but our communication regarding the children has further developed into a friendship between the two of us. I am not suggesting this was an overnight matter, as in the beginning it was a difficult process and has definitely taken both of us some time to reach that point. Nevertheless, because of the work done by us both, starting from the end of our relationship to the current date, both our children have recognized the healthy environment their parents created despite our feelings for each other. We have navigated extended family members, sports and school events, graduations, holidays, other relationships, sickness, relocation, financial stress, and college. Most recently we spent Christmas Day together as a family. The most important acknowledgement of our co-parenting is the thanks we receive from both our children.
We have watched our children develop from ages 10 and 13, at the time of our divorce, into adults. In the beginning, the structure of a parenting plan was important, so the children knew what to expect. Communication was key as we discussed EVERYTHING related to our children including the feelings and thoughts, they shared with us individually. Because of that communication, we didn’t create expectations or keep secrets. We helped each other out with transportation and took up the slack when one parent had other responsibilities. We did this all without holding resentments towards each other as the most important thing was caring for the children. As a result, both extended families, remain close with the children and welcome the other family members into their homes.
As an attorney-mediator for the Alpha Center, I get to share my success story with my clients who show up at our first meeting a little uncertain about the future. I am steadfast in my belief that divorcing spouses can continue to be Mom and Dad if they set aside their individual differences once they have agreed on how to move forward. I encourage communication and remind them raising children is not an overnight matter but will continue for a lifetime. Consequently, if they continue to participate as a parent, their children will benefit greatly. I am reminded of that by the emails I receive from grateful divorced co-parents who are doing what I have outlined above.
The Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation has been providing an alternative to the high cost and harmful stress of a litigated divorce for the past thirty years. Divorcing couples use Alpha’s divorce mediation program to ensure their children’s well being and to help preserve their family. Our attorney mediators provide an environment to help assist the couple to settle their differences amicably. Let the Alpha Center help your family make a harmonious transition to a healthy future for you, your children, and your family.
Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation