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Advice for divorced parents in raising emotionally secure kids

Mediation isn't just for working out issues of divorce like division of property and other assets. It's often used by divorced and separated parents to work out issues regarding their children -- often beyond support, custody and visitation.

Even couples who are able to engage in a mediated or collaborative divorce can find themselves locked in bitter conflict over what's' best for their children. Too often, that conflict is driven, whether they realize it or not, by their feelings of anger, revenge and hurt toward each other.

One divorce mediator says that a key piece of his advice for divorced parents is to let their children be children. This may mean putting aside their own differences to present a united parenting front. Parents need to behave like parents rather than spurned lovers or litigants.

He's created something called a "Hierarchy of Children's Needs in Two Homes." At the base of that hierarchy is safety and survival. Of course, if a child isn't physically and/or psychologically safe with one parent, contact with him or her needs to be restricted or at least supervised. Fortunately, in most cases, children are safe with both parents.

The next levels of the hierarchy involve meeting the child's psychological needs. It's important for children to be able to have a relationship with both parents that isn't encumbered by parental disputes. Of course, parents should never pit their child against their ex or involve them in their disagreements. As the old saying goes, they need to love their children more than they hate their ex.

If you and your ex are having difficulty navigating a healthy co-parenting relationship and that difficulty is impacting your children's emotional well-being and happiness, mediators can often help. Sometimes counseling, either with or without your children, can also prove beneficial. Your Florida mediation attorney can likely recommend some resources for you and your family.

Source: Washington Post, "A divorce mediator answers: Can divorced parents just act like parents?," Robert E. Emery, Sep. 08, 2016

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