Separated Parents Join the Peace Party

Moms and dads, who no longer live together, are NOT destined to years of bickering, anger, mistrust, and hatred.  Recently the Community Mediation Center (CMC) has experienced an increase in calls from young parents seeking help with parenting plans.  Many situations involve parents who were never married, or divorced parents with court ordered plans that have broken down.  Often fueled by misunderstanding and fear, a restraining order or an order of protection is sought in court. Unassisted, people involved in high conflict have a difficult time separating their own issues with each other from decisions about their children’s welfare.

The mother of a ten month old baby girl called CMC with a request for help to work with her daughter’s dad in creating a visitation schedule.  In May, the little girl went to visit her dad for a weekend and mom didn’t see her for a month.  Because of that incident, mom refused to orchestrate another visit between the little girl and her dad, and had stopped returning his calls.  A phone call between a CMC staff member and dad revealed a willingness to do whatever was necessary to see his daughter again.

Co-mediators from CMC met with mom and dad, during which time a plan was put in place to insure that each parent had substantial time with their daughter, with a set time for pick up and drop off to the other parent.  Sitting face to face and engaging in careful problem solving gave these parents confidence that agreements between them would be upheld.

The opportunity for conflict coaching also emerged.  Communicating with a relaxed tone of voice and body language, and using ‘I’ statements instead of blaming the other person were discussed in a way that parties came to see their own contribution to the difficult interactions between them.  They committed to more respectful communication in the future.  Each agreed to take a break when emotions ran too high, to ignore gossip about the other and to clear up any misunderstanding with face to face exchanges.  A shared desire to model respectful behavior for their daughter was put in writting.  Following the mediation, mom said “I just wanted to get our plan in writing, but this was so much more helpful to us, more than you can imagine”.

Helping to heal family relationships, in which there are shared children, is part of the work of mediation, and sometimes the only place it is likely to happen.  To parents who want to provide more peaceful lives for their children and for themselves, welcome to the Peace Party!

You are invited!  Consider relationship focused mediation in conflict situations at home, at work, or in your neighborhood.  Building peace is everyone’s opportunity!

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