Older Children, Newer Problems
Relearning to communicate—and hold each other accountable.
Sally and Sam had been divorced for over a decade. Since they went their separate ways, their children grew from pre-schoolers to teens. The “old way” of dealing with issues concerning their children no longer worked; the kids had their own ideas about what was important to consider. Over the years, contention was building—and the conflict between the parents was starting to impact the children.
At the suggestion of a professional the parents knew, Tony was introduced to the family and began working with them. To discuss their needs and desires, he met with each of them individually, and then as a family unit. In a series of meetings, Tony facilitated discussions that allowed each family member to express his or her thoughts without judgment or criticism.
The net result was a new “contract” that each family member helped create. It defined what everyone needed and—even more importantly—how they’d behave with each other when things got tough. The atmosphere has been more considerate and familial ever since.
“The challenge was to get everyone willing to listen to each other’s concerns. By talking with them individually, I gained insight into how the family functioned and what mattered most to each person. I was then able to start developing trust with them. When we gathered as a group, we did a couple of exercises to soften the emotional field. Things warmed up quickly from there, and we had deeper discussions.”
Divorced Family of 6 Relearns to Relate
Letting go of negative emotions—for the children.
Ned and Nancy were high school sweethearts who got married after college and had four children together. After a contentious and lengthy divorce, they set up separate homes, equipped with a parenting plan to guide them into the happily ever after. But from the outset, each parent unknowingly sabotaged the effort by harboring anger and resentment toward the other.
After a series of failed attempts to negotiate around their differences, their attorneys suggested—not for the first time—that they work with a parenting coordinator. They met with and decided to hire Tony. He started by meeting them separately to get each parent’s perspective about what was going on between them. Next, the three identified a set of goals they wanted to work on, putting agreements into place about how conflict would be respectfully handled.
Tony facilitated conversation, helped both parties clarify themselves, and ensured that each heard and understood what the other was trying to communicate. The family is now learning a new way of interacting and resolving their differences. On the rare occasion they can’t agree, Tony is consulted to make a decision in the best interest of the children.
Tony’s work with this family unit is ongoing.
“The key was to get the parents to accept that their anger and resentment was a major impediment, so I laid out the facts. It got emotional, and the impact of working through this was life-changing. With an understanding of how their ‘disappointed dreams’ created problems, we created a new narrative that became their guiding light. The most satisfying aspect of this work so far is that they get together each month now for ‘family dinners’ and call on me much less frequently.”
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