Working together for the benefit of your children
When a relationship breaks down there are a lot of emotions; for example; Anger, fear, guilt, hatred.
The breakdown may have been triggered by the actions of one of the couple. The reality is something would probably not have been working, possibly for some time for at least one of the couple. They would have found it difficult to resolve the problem with the other, even if they were able to talk about it.
Without going into too much detail, one of the outcomes of an end of a relationship is a breakdown of communication and of trust.
Often when we get to see couples who want to talk about the arrangements for their children, they have not spoken to each other for some time. Alternatively they do communicate, but badly; in other words, having arguments, saying hurtful things.
Their children are stuck in the middle of the arguments. The arrangements for contact have either broken down completely or are not working. Contact can even become part of the adult argument with one or both playing games with each other, for example by being deliberately awkward when making arrangements; by being inflexible; by being late or unreliable or unavailable. Often both want there to be contact, but find it difficult to break out of the argument.
The couple often find themselves trapped in a negative cycle.
Have a look at the diagram below. This is the negative cycle.
Once parents are trapped in it, it can be very difficult to escape.
A Court process will often only make the situation worse, because you are adding extra negative ingredients such as resentment.
What needs to change?
Basically the ingredients of good contact are good communication, delivery and trust. Each time an arrangement is delivered both parents gain confidence [and trust] that the next arrangement will be delivered. This process is supported by good communications, but would be undermined by bad communications. The better things work, the better things will work next time; the more parents are willing and able to overcome minor problems. The better things go, the more willing both parents are willing and able to be flexible. What parents need and want [and what their children want] is a positive cycle.
What can we do?
The mediator’s job is to move the parents from the negative cycle to the positive cycle!
The can be done. The mediator has skills which they can use to assist the parents look at what they want to achieve and how to work together to make arrangements work.
This can take several meetings, but if the parents commit to the process they will be able to change cycles and they will be able to achieve durable arrangements which put the needs of their children first.