Everyone wins with a parenting plan

Conflict is natural in a divorce, but what happens to the kids in the midst of a brutal divorce battle? Parents are so fixated on “winning” the fight while their children stand on the sidelines confused, frightened and worried. 

Child-centered mediation can be a win for everyone.

As a child-centered mediator, I help couples develop a collaborative mindset that sets the tone for the rest of the divorce process. Parents meet with me to discuss a tangible, written parenting plan regarding visitation, vacations, holidays, introducing a new partner, visits with grandparents, school meetings, and any other issues normally disputed between the attorneys on your behalf, which often results in a pretty hefty and needless price tag for each individual. 

A parenting plan is an effective and cost-efficient method of negotiation that can help couples resolve their issues satisfactorily while keeping the needs of the children at the forefront.  In most cases, the parents are happy with the plan because it is designed to prevent future conflicts or confusion when it comes to the kids. It documents how parents will handle the care of their children after the divorce, it specifies how ex-spouses will split their time and decision-making for the children, it helps facilitate a workable post-divorce relationship between the two parents, and it decreases the chances of disputes. Most importantly, it is written by the parents, not a lawyer or a judge. 

As the child-centered mediator, I am unbiased, and I don’t take any sides except the side of the children. I look at the issues through the child’s perspective. How does your child feel? What does your child need? My goal is to help the divorcing parents develop a plan that is in the best interest of the children while remaining realistic for the adults. The parents and I collaborate to find the best new dynamic for the family. 

In our first session, I ask parents – “how do you want your children to describe you in 20 years and the relationship you have with them?” I remind them to behave the way they want their kids to see them behave and try not to lose focus. 

I also make it clear during our sessions that I am advocating for the children. I help couples to understand how to negotiate with each other; I am not a therapist trying to get them back together, and I am not an attorney who will testify on their behalf in court. I’m not here to divide the house, I am here to divide the holidays. I work to decrease the conflict between the parents so we can design a workable parenting plan. 

In some cases, one spouse is unwilling to see a child-centered mediator so I work with one spouse or I can see each spouse individually. In either case, we still can affect change. It is all about making the best new dynamic for the family.

Do you really want a judge or attorneys deciding when you can see your kids at Christmas or how much time you can spend with them during summer vacation?

It’s time to move from conflict to solution and get a solid parenting plan in place. You are the parents who forever will be communicating about your kids. The more you can collaborate and communicate, the better off your children will be in the future.

Your children want and need stability, love, comfort and happy memories. You can do this for them!

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Child-Centered Mediator Jeanette von Grabe, call The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health at 248.399.7447.

Author Jeanette von Grabe is a psychotherapist, child-centered mediator and divorce coach. She works with children, adolescents and couples to help reduce high conflict in divorcing families. Her approach is aimed at developing insight and techniques to create an emotionally healthy environment for children to thrive. Her experience in child development and mediation training provides her with an eclectic background to support individuals and couples in making educated and empowered decisions that emotionally protect their children as they uncouple from their partner.