Father’s Day, Divorce, & Mediation

As we’ve recently celebrated Father’s Day, I was reminded that the purpose of Father’s Day is to acknowledge all fathers and celebrate their special day. However, if your family has been impacted by divorce, it may not seem like a celebration. If this sounds like your situation, it may feel extremely stressful for you, your ex, and your children. If you are a mother, please remember you are normally the first person your child bonds with. Therefore, you can assume a positive role of modeling how to respect their father, no matter how you may feel about him (unless he was abusive and safety is a concern.) I would ask the same type of respect from him on Mother’s Day.

By having an open dialogue with your ex, your communication models how you have set aside any negative feelings toward the father(s) of your children because you know that is best for your child or children. Depending on the ages of your child/children, volunteer to take them to a card store so they can choose a Father’s Day card. Or, if that isn’t in your budget, suggest that they make a card.

If your child/children express an interest in giving dad a gift, again, follow through with their idea. If finances are an issue, once again, encourage them to make something for dad. Even if you have negative feelings toward their father, by helping them with these tasks, you are modeling for them how to “care” for another human being.

Allow your children to spend Father’s Day with their dad on his special day. Try to do this no matter what is outlined in your parenting plan (if you don’t have a parenting plan or need to revise it and don’t want to pay for an attorney or the cost of going to court, consider contacting a mediator to help you resolve any conflicts or to assist you in making changes to the plan.) Flexibility and mutual consideration as co-parents makes your children much healthier emotionally and mentally.

If geography or travel logistics are an issue in bringing together your children and their father, suggest using social media so they can “see each other.” Depression, loneliness and isolation are common in divorced or estranged parent(s.) If you experience these things frequently, please contact a therapist and /or seek help. I can help you. Your children need you in their lives.

Fathers, you need to ask your ex-spouse and/or the mother of your children for what you need. Maybe you (father) would really like your child/children to spend Father’s Day and an additional day since school is out for the summer. If you and your ex can communicate and practice being flexible, you are less likely to feel resentful.

For both parents, even though you are divorced, remember to stay focused on the needs and well-being of your child/children. It is crucial to plan ahead for holidays or other “special” days so your child/children see that even though you are divorced, both of you are co-parenting in healthy ways.

If you are struggling with co-parenting, or other issues, mediation may be something to consider. Mediation is a more peaceful, economical resolution to resolve conflict. Please contact me. I am a therapist and a Kansas State Supreme Court Approved Mediator.  Let’s start rebuilding your relationships today!

Is It Time To Separate?

“Is choosing to separate the best option for me?” Choosing to separate in a marriage is never an easy decision to make.  It is my hope that by reading this article you can gain some perspective on the topic of separation.  A separation is different from a divorce in that you and your spouse will still legally share all parental and financial responsibilities.  Also separations tend to have many different flavors. Here are the 3 most common types. 

The Working Separation

In a working separation the couple separates in order to spend time improving themselves.  Maybe a spouse has a mental health issue they are working on, or perhaps one spouse has an addiction they need to focus on.  Working separations are best when there is an informal agreement between the two partners. This agreement will ideally have an explanation as to what issue needs to be worked on, who will take care of the kids and other responsibilities, what limits or boundaries are placed on communication (we’ll only communicate through text or email, or no communication for 2 months, etc.) and on what grounds will reconciliation take place. Working separations have the highest chance of resulting in reconciliation. If you think this is the type of separation you are looking for please contact a therapist or counselor–like myself--and draw up this contract with their input and guidance.

The Trial Separation

A trial separation is when one or more persons in the marriage express a desire to try what being single feels like.  The idea is that the person is given time to “clear their head.” Afterwards they will then decide on whether or not to pursue reconciliation. One person generally will move out, either to another part of the house or to another place all together.  Trial separations most commonly occur in families without young children.

These separations have a high rate of ending in divorce because most people leave a marriage when the pain and frustration are so high that staying seems impossible.  Then,when they leave they find that being single has less pain and frustration then being married and make the jump to divorce.

The Legal Separation

This option is pursued most often when a marriage has become stale and anemic; there is little good in the marriage but also little frustration also.  The couple may stay together for the sake of the children or because they both feel that becoming single is not attractive.

Whatever type of separation you are considering please understand that separation is a matter of last resort.  Typically, divorce is the result of separation far, far more often than reconciliation. That being said if you separate when your pain and frustration haven’t yet caused you to give up there is a better chance of reconciliation afterward compared to waiting until you have one foot out the door.

If you or someone you know are going through a situation and you are contemplating separation or divorce, contact me today. I can help you work through your issues and come up with a plan that is best for your unique situation and relationship.