Most parents commit to working together on their children’s behalf after their romantic relationship ends but occasionally separated parents remain in conflict for a long time. For whatever reason, these couples can’t get past their differences to build a healthy parenting relationship. The push-pull of the dynamic escalates into increasingly dramatic actions. Parents engage in a screaming match in front of their son. The father dis-enrolls the son from the school in which the mother has enrolled him. The mother takes the son out of the state before the holiday so that he can’t spend it with his father. Police are called. A court case is filed.
In these extreme cases of conflict, a Parenting Coordinator (PC), serving as a neutral third party can help the parents three ways:
- Immediate and temporary relief from a given conflict. The Parenting Coordinator can serve as a mediator to help them resolve their disagreement. In extreme cases where resolution can’t be reached, a PC can make a decision for the parents as long as it doesn’t fundamentally alter their separation agreement.
- Education. PCs help co-parents learn new behaviors to resolve future conflicts. They offer communication tools, insights and language for getting through the challenges without going to war.
- Witnessing. Whether for the courts or within the privacy of the office, a PC can serve as a witness to what goes on between the parents and reflect that back to the parties or to the court. The knowledge that Parenting Coordination is a non-confidential process often keeps parents on their best behavior and when all else fails, a neutral third party now has insight into the destructive dynamic.
Fortunately, most parents don’t need the heavy-weight role of a PC, but for those that find themselves in ongoing or frequent conflict, the mediator/educator/witness improves the situation enough to reduce the stress on the children.