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Parent Coordination

Being Honest with Children

Of course we should be honest with children, but really? How honest? When parents are divorcing, particularly if the decision wasn’t mutual, there is often a lot of anger and hard feelings. Divorce is difficult at best when both parties are in agreement to separate. But if one did not want the marriage to end and the other has already moved on, the situation can be toxic. What to tell the kids when they ask why their parents are separating is an important question. A couple I was working with recently split up because the mom had an affair and [...]

How to Avoid Communication Breakdown

When a couple is in the process of a separation they rarely communicate well. Some basic rules can be helpful. When a couple is having difficulty in their relationship and separating, their communication is often poor, and frequently gets worse. That’s a real problem, particularly if the couple has children and needs to communicate and work together to co-parent. All the research tells us that children of divorced parents can do very well, but the parents must follow a few basic rules. First, parents must never argue in front of their children. Overt conflict in front of children makes them [...]

Inclusive Families

Our new Vice President shows us the beauty of an inclusive blended family. It is a wonderfull model for divorced familes. Vice President Kamala Harris is married to a man who was divorced and has children. She models a wonderful blended family. She has a special name, as her step children call her "momala". She is very connected to her sister and her sister's children, as they were with her on stage at the presidential events. I've read that she is also friendly with her husband's ex-wife, and they share events togehter. Is this unusual, yes, but, not so uncommon. [...]

Pandemic parenting

Pandemic parenting is a challenge. Now that we've been dealing with the pandemic for six months and schools are opening, or maybe not and only going remote, parents are in a quandry. There are so many decisions to make and there are no right answers. Everyone has a somewhat different risk tolerance and although everyone wants to stay safe and healthy, all do not agree on the same rules. This is particularly true for divorced parents who share care of their children. The most important thing to remember is that both parents need to keep in mind that they need [...]

Parenting Plans

When couples separate a parenting plan is developed. Will that be the plan that exists forever ? Couples develop parenting plans with their mediators or attorneys in the process of separating. This can sometimes be a very difficult task. When it is done well, it is very comprehensive and deals with as many contingencies as possible, to avoid future conflict between the parents. The parenting plan explains the daily schedule the child(ren) will follow, specifically when they will sleep at each parent's home. It also details the times and places of transitions, which are particularly applicable when the children are [...]

Rules to Keep Kids Out of the Middle

It is well known that kids must be kept out of the middle of divorced parents for them to grow up happy and healthy. Here are 4 Rules to follow which can be very helpful. I have found that sometimes it is easier if parents are given a "set of rules" to keep kids out of the middle. These rules can be a reminder and keep parents on track even when they feel angry and upset. I suggest they be kept in a place where they can be looked at frequently. Sometimes, it takes self control not to express angry [...]

Language Matters

Words are important. The language you use when speaking to your ex can make or break a conversation. The major way people communicate is through words. Language matters. There is a language of love and a language of anger. Specific words can make or break a conversation. There are angry and aggressive words and sweet and compassionate ones. There are neutral words that seek informations and ask questions. People react to the words that they hear. And sometimes, even benign words can be triggers for a person based on their history, and couples know each others' triggers. Couples who are [...]

Getting Along as Co-Parents

It's a tall order to ask parents who are divorced to get along as co-parents, but it's possible. And sometimes, it's even easier than when the couple was married. The stress of a divorce is tremendous. It is one of the biggest life stresses and of course effects co-parenting. But frequently, after the divorce is completed, a new normal is established and co-parenting can be easier than before. The parents can work on developing a new "business" relationship and hopefully let go of some of the anger from their spousal relationship. It is helpful if a few simple rules are [...]

Blended Families

After divorce, people frequently re-couple and create blended families. There are many issues that arise in these new family constellations, some of which can be difficult to navigate. One of the most difficult issues in blended families is how to integrate a new step parent so it works for the chldren as well as the ex. After couples divorce, inevitably one or both of the parents re-couple. This is a good thing. But sometimes can be difficult. If only one of the original couple becomes a new couple, jealousy often enters the picture. As one woman told me, "it's just [...]

Why Co-Parent?

Why do parents want to co-parent after divorce ? Usually they don't, but they have no choice! The truth is that many would prefer not, but that's not realistic. When parents separate or divorce, usually both parents want to care for their children. Both parents are usually aware that it is preferable for their kids to have both of their parents. The research on divorce tells us that kids of divorce do better when they have real relationships with both parents, (and they don't have a lot of conflict.... but I'll get to that). This is a major decision every [...]

Joint Custody

Joint custody is sharing the children after divorce, but what does it really look like? And is it good for the kids? This is a question I am frequently asked. Joint custody can be either joint legal or joint physical custody or both. In NY at this time, joint legal custody is often the presumption, with both parents sharing the joint responsibility of decision making for their children. This means that neither parent can independenty decide any major decisions about the health, education or welfare of their children. Both parents must communciate together about what schools the children will attend, [...]

Parent Coordination

Parent coordination is the process where divorced or separated parents meet with a mediator to resolve issues they have with co-parenting their children. Mom thinks that her child should be on a soccer team, take music lessons and also a drama class each week. Dad thinks his child should take judo, learn tennis and work with a tutor each week. Who is "right?" They fight over their own ideas and cannot resolve the issue. They need to meet with a parent coordinator. A parent coordinator is generally a family therapist who has training in couple and family dynamics with additional [...]

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