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The Search for a Good Parenting Consultant

High Conflict Central hears the most from parents when it comes to finding or working with a parenting consultant or parent coordinator. These people are so hard to understand, even lawyers and judges can have trouble with the role. We will admit that we struggled to understand their decisions and behaviors until our fearless leader, Susan Carpenter, made things more clear.

We have never met anyone who understands Parenting Consultants as much as Susan Carpenter does. Never. Of course many highly experienced PCs understand their role, but some of the newbies may not. Either way, they don’t share what is going on with you. Why? They figure your lawyer will. Unfortunately, on the flip side, lawyers think your PC will. Well, this leads to where nobody will. Lucky for you, we will. Susan will, too.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to navigate something in complete darkness. Why do that when we can shed light on everything. Susan Carpenter also wrote a book for you. So you can know. Check that out, too. Susan is our leader for a reason.

High Conflict central’s mission is to help parents navigate through nasty divorces and escape family court as much as possible. We do this through:

Books like: The Parenting Coordinator and Consultant Survival Guide

Coaching

Online Classes , including a free e-course about parenting consultants in Minnesota.

And, highly qualified coaches and instructors like Susan Carpenter at the Journey Defined.

When searching for a parenting consultant, beware of those who are seeking company for their misery or put out scary information that is not true.

If you’d like some divorce help, especially to select or understand your parenting consultant in Minnesota, please connect with us at High Conflict Central. You can also check out our online courses.

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Children Need Their Parents

Image courtesy of John Hain at Pixabay.com

Children need their parents. This is particularly true during times of transition, such as divorce. The most challenging thing about going through divorce is to manage your own pain so that you can be the support your child needs. Divorce is a critical time for a family. Emotions are high. Sometimes parent conflict is extremely high to the point of insanity. If you are feeling so much stress and upset, just imagine what your children are feeling. They need their parents to reassure them that everything will be alright, but if you are not sure of that, it is hard to make them believe the words you tell them.

Many parents seek out help from lawyers or mediators to get through the divorce process. Some will even turn to a therapist. Those are good professionals to turn to, but the problem is that you may hear different things from each different player. A therapist is going to validate your feelings while a lawyer is going to tell you your feelings don’t matter. Everything will feel like it is tied to money when it is supposed to be about your children’s best interests.

Have you ever thought about seeking help from a coach-mentor? High Conflict Central has been involved with parents in conflict, especially parents going through divorce or post decree issues. We not only have a collective 21 years of experience in the process divorced parents have to go through, but also have experienced the pain. A requirement for our coach-mentors is that they have been through similar things to what you are going through. We can understand what you are talking about and help you understand the upside down and backwards experience of what it is like to go through family court in a way that your lawyer or therapist will never be able to do. We also understand the reason behind Family Court and what seems like insanity in their thinking and we want to help you understand, too. There is nothing that feels more like eternal darkness than trying to navigate a system that you are not prepared to navigate and do not understand.

High Conflict Central tries to be the link to connect all the pieces for you. While you may not want to spend money on coaching when you have high legal bills and concerns about your future, our clients will tell you that coaching helped decrease their lawyer bills and the number of interactions with court professionals like judges or parenting consultants. It will also help you feel supported and in the strongest possible position to help your child. Contact us to learn more about coaching services at High Conflict Central, a trademark of Susan Carpenter Coaching and Consulting.

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Who Do You Recommend for a Parenting Coordinator or Consultant?

Approved Seal by Naypong

 

As someone who has been working for almost 20 years to help parents navigate the very choppy waters of family court, I get a fair amount of calls and emails from parents who feel overwhelmed with how off track their case has become.  High conflict cases snowball into unimagineable craziness and parents desperately want to find ways to make it stop.  Much of the craziness doesn’t really come from court.  It really comes from the behavior of one or both parents.  When you get sucked into the vortex of the land of upside down and backwards, AKA family court, there is little that the legal system can offer to fix it.  Everything depends on the level of the cooperation between parents and their willingness to accept the reality of the situation and follow the prescripts that court professionals have to offer.  Unfortunately, there is no magic fairy dust.  There are no gold plated court orders that will make someone “follow the rules” or court orders.  Parenting is not an exact science, whether a couple is happily married or whether they are angrily, hostiley, vindictively or hatefully divorced.  The problem for divorced people is that you cannot put parenting on hold.  Married couples sometimes alternate parenting between each parent because they do not fear the other has plans to take the children away, but divorced parents battle over who gets to do what, often because fear or hurt feelings are driving the parenting.  Court orders cannot magically take fear or hurt feelings away.

In many cases, parents work through their fears and hurt feelings, and divorce drama can settle down to a level that will make the situation workable for children and parents, but in the case of high conflict, the battle continues to rage without end.  It is possible for the craziness to not only stay the same, but to increase.  It happens because one or both parents are very rigid and demanding and they are unable or unwilling to look at how they contribute to the conflict.  Until both parents can examine how they got to this point, there really is no way to move them forward.  So, even though the real burden is always on the parents, desperate parents beg the court for help.

Family court doesn’t have much to offer that will be of much help to you.  They operate with no-fault ideas for divorce.  You can blame all day long, but they don’t want to hear about it.  Court operates under “the best interests of the child” doctrine, which means that the court has been elevated to the keeper of your child’s best interests, regardless of what a parent might think their child’s best interests are, and the most they can offer you is usually some type of mental health services.  Even then, their options for mental health services in high conflict situations are a blend of law and psychology and sometimes, neither specialty does what it is supposed to do.  If those areas don’t work together, but are in conflict with each other they add more drama to the mix.  You end up being at the mercy of the biases and ideals that the professionals hold, often outside of court and outside of the application of law, but that is what they have to offer you if you cannot make it workable yourself.

About the only thing they can offer, once the Judgement and Decree has been signed, sealed and delivered, is  the services of a Parenting Consultant or Parenting Coordinator.  The term Parenting Consultant is exclusive to Minnesota.  The rest of the world calls them Parenting or Parent Coordinators.  What these professionals do is to act as a neutral party, who will case manage the parents’ communication and conflict, try to help the parents cooperate and make agreements about the children, but they will also make a decision when the parents are unable to agree.  It can be helpful, but it can also be a prison sentence.

Because of my personal and professional background in family court, parents seek out my wisdom on who they should choose as their parenting consultant.  Since I am in Minnesota, I know specifics about some of the PCs here.  Because I work one on one with parents as a divorce and conflict coach or parent educator, I have seen samplings from many of our local PCs and I know how they think or react.  That can be helpful when someone asks me who they should choose as a PC, but truthfully, you just cannot know how a PC will act in your case.

Over the years, I have had favorite PCs.  There have also been some PCs that I tell people to steer clear of.  Still, it is a hard call.  PCs can burn out.  PCs can come up with ideas that they think are really good and then see that they go bad.  PCs charge you a lot of money for their services and so if that is their sole motivation, they may enjoy seeing the conflict increase.  Every so often I see a PC do a phenomenal job and I recommend that individual very highly, but then something happens and they do a terrible job on the next case.  Did they suffer from burn out?  Are they too overloaded with cases?  Word gets around if they seem to know what they are doing.  Did they get ill?  Are they just tired of the pettiness?  What you may not understand is high conflict is not only stressful for you, but also stressful for the professionals.  I can speak to how difficult it is to witness some of the things parents will do to their child on a daily basis and be unable to do enough to put a stop to it or make the parent see their role in the conflict.  Performing the role of PC is not easy.  Being a prisoner (parent) of the role is frustrating, to say the least.

What you must remember is this.  The individuals who fill the role are human, just like you.  They make mistakes.  They get stressed.  They have no magic formula to make people cooperate, treat each other decently, put their children first, or “follow the rules”.  Your conflict may be different from the conflict they’ve managed in other families.  While conflict is very similarly rooted, the underlying issues or triggers may be different.  The interaction between parents may be very different.  The histories between parents may be very different.  The children’s personalities may be very different.  Parent’s personalities may clash with the personality of the Parenting Coordinator/Consultant.  A PC may be too passive to make a difference for you or they may be too aggressive to change an aggressive parent.  You can never really know how things will go in your particular case.

If you are planning to appoint a Parenting Coordinator/Consultant to your case or are struggling with one that you currently have, I strongly recommend coaching services.  Your approach to the process and with the professional will determine how well it can work.  Coaching can help you understand what is happening, especially when it makes no sense to you.  For more information on why your family cannot move forward, contact us.  We are always happy to see if we can make a difference for you and your child.

Also, regardless of where you live, if you have any recommendations for a Parenting Consultant or Parenting Coordinator, leave a comment.  Parents want to know about different professionals so that they don’t choose the wrong one.  Your feedback may spare another parent from a lot of grief.  Always keep in mind though, if a parent has approached the situation with ill intent, they probably will have a hard time with the PC on their case.  Everything is about perception.

Follow High Conflict Central.  Our goal is to help parents make a better life for themselves and their children.  You can read more about that here and here.  We are assembling a team of divorce mentors around the country.  If this is something you are interested in, either finding a mentor or training to become a mentor, contact us today.

PC services are part of what is offered by Life’s Doors Mediation, a sponsor of High Conflict Central.  Reach out to them if you are looking for PC services.  To learn about the difference between a PC and a PTE, sign up for our free e-course on the topic.

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How to Stay Positive When Everything is Negative

Think Positive by jesadaphorn
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at freedigitalphotos.net

In challenging times one can often feel hopeless and stuck in a downward spiral of negativity. If anything doesn’t go according to plan or it takes your time away from doing what you need or want to do, you go on the attack. Everyone is a target. You start finding yourself labeled as psycho, angry, disturbed, etc. If you are involved in a court battle you could be labeled as a bad parent or with a mental diagnosis like bipolar, histrionic, schizoid or other, even if you have no such diagnosis in any medical record. The courts throw these terms around at the mildest suggestion by an ex or a court authority. It is extremely upsetting for the accused when people who are not doctors or psychiatrists or therapists to start writing labels into your court documents. These labels will then stick. You may even start to wonder if they are right! If you haven’t been diagnosed outside of the family court arena, in most cases those labels are NOT right!

So what can you do? The courts view you as something you are not, your ex bad mouths you all over town. Sometimes your kids act kind of distant. You get upset about everything and everyone. Work becomes a hostile environment also. How do you have a positive attitude and stay out of the negativity trap?

First of all, take time to nurture yourself. When things get really intense, have a great workout, take a walk, do some yoga, ride a bicycle, or a motorcycle, go hang out with a friend, watch a movie, use some kind of distraction to separate you from your problems. Have you colored in a coloring book lately? Do this with your kids and see how creativity uplifts you. For just an hour or two, do not allow yourself to dwell on the negativity at all.

Next, make sure you are taking care of your body by getting enough food and drink and get the amount of sleep you need. A strong body supports a strong mind. If you’re not able to sleep without dwelling on your problems, sit and meditate, or listen to soothing song that makes you feel good. Take some deep breaths. Think of anything positive in your life. Make a list of positive things or goals. Think of how it will feel to accomplish those goals.  Read some scripture.  Pray.  God is always on your side, even when you think no one else is! Then go to sleep on a positive note. This takes a lot of practice, but you can get yourself to where you can always pull yourself out of negative and into the positive thoughts anytime the negative tries to creep in.

Use good body language. Walk tall. Hold your head up. Have you ever tried it? It is amazing. If you stand up straight and wear a smile on your face, people will see you as confident and happy. Say, “Hi”, to people as you walk by. See the reaction. Don’t slouch, it comes off as the appearance of defeated, you don’t want to look weak or defeated, especially when you are dealing with the court or court authorities.

Use positive words. When I decided to go for sole custody, I used words like “when” i am granted custody, rather than “if” I am granted custody. “If” was not in my list possibilities. I use that when going on a job interview as well. I act as if I already have the job! This is very important. Believe in your ability to do whatever it is you want to do. If you are going for sole custody, know you can and will do it. Believe in yourself. If any doubters try to bring you down, let them know that you WILL prevail in court. You WILL do everything humanly possible to achieve your goals. Know that whatever happens in life, you will get through it. Negative times are temporary. A Positive attitude is permanent.

It may feel strange at first, if you have been struggling for years, but you will get the hang of it. If you need something tangible to hold to remind yourself, get yourself a good luck charm, either a necklace, bracelet, key chain or something that you keep on your desk at work or in your car. Find something that will bring you back to your focus if you start reverting back to the old negative ways. Retrain your brain to stay on some kind of movement forward in your life so that you are not stuck and you are not going backward.

Life is a balancing act. When you allow yourself to obsess over one part of life, while not allowing time for the good parts, you will feel hopeless and want to give up. Sometimes you will have to focus on the court battle. That will be unavoidable. For times when you don’t have to focus on those spirit draining things, don’t. No matter what. Make sure that you schedule time with a friend or doing some activity you really enjoy at least a couple times per week. That gives you something to look forward to and helps you move forward.

You don’t have to stay stuck. You really don’t. You can always think of something positive in your life if you really try.  Focus on the good things and put the negative in a closet where you only let it out if you must.  Get unstuck in life by moving forward. You will notice a difference and you will feel a new strength that helps you achieve all of your goals.

 

 

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The Best Revenge on an EX

Best Revenge
When hit with divorce some people decide that their life is over. They think that in order to be a good parent, they must make sacrifices.  They decide that dating has to wait until the children are grown, or they decide that they must be alone FOREVER.

There are always those people who decide that “all men are scum!” or that “all women are man haters!” While it certainly feels that way as you try to heal the wounds of divorce, those statements are blatantly false.  Just because one person hurt you, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a loving man or woman out there who has been hurt just as badly, and would love to find someone like you.  Many people are looking for a decent, loving individual, with whom they can build a new life, but instead, they do not allow themselves to seek out a potential mate.

It is called fear, people.  Fear holds them back from true happiness.  Those who live in fear never get to live life to the fullest.  They miss out on the joy life can bring.  They miss out on sharing a life with someone wonderful.

We can take our past experiences and let them continue to hurt us, or we could chalk it up to experience and hop right back on that bicycle and try it again.  What I think people find through dating, especially when they are a little older and have been through divorce, is that they matter, and that they are more beautiful and desirable than they think they are.

The period following divorce can be a chance to learn about yourself.  It can be a time to figure out who you are and what your interests are.  You can try people on for size and it will help you find the right one for you.  Just because the last one turned out to be the wrong one, that is no reason to give up and hide under the covers.  I truly believe that there is someone out there for everyone.  Just make sure that you have examined your part in the failed relationship and that you are emotionally healthy and ready for a new relationship before you get deeply involved with a new mate.  It will save many headaches later if you get your act together!

I have another take on that whole “sacrificing for the children” belief.  I think that when you swear off dating, you are robbing your children of a good example.  Here’s why: Since you ended up divorced, that was probably not the best example of a healthy relationship.  Did you fight? Was there chemical dependency involved? Was your ex physically and verbally abusive?  Children learn by modeling.  They observe the relationships they see and it leaves an impression on them.  The kind of relationship they witness will be the relationship they seek out in their own lives and they will do so without even knowing they are doing it.

One day, they will choose a significant other and have a relationship just like their parents had. Why? Because this is what a relationship looks like to them. Do you want that? Would it be better to show your children how to date selectively and then hopefully find that special person with whom you can have a healthy, lasting relationship with? What a great model to give them, especially if all of the relationships around them haven’t always been the healthiest! Do this for you, but also for your children, and for that new person you have yet to meet, the one who is just as lonely as you are. You just might surprise yourself and find the right one. I know I have.

Keep in mind that there is another reason to open your heart and mind to love, and all of the possibilities in life.  Your ex.  While I would never recommend dating just to get back at your ex, I do think the best revenge on an ex is for them to see you blissfully happy and successful in life!  Go ahead.  Have the last laugh.

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Truth Always Comes Out

Pointing Truth On Blackboard Stock Photo
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

 

A common concern for divorced parents is what to do when their co-parent is deceitful and manipulative.  You have to know when and how to respond to lies or accusation and when not to.  Parent’s instincts can cause them to react defensively, rather than respond appropriately.  Unfortunately, by getting defensive, you can make others believe that there is truth to what your evil ex is saying about you.  The easiest thing to do is say, “That’s not true.” and move on.  Most of the time, false accusations will not impact your parenting time, especially if you already have an agreed upon parenting time schedule or court ordered schedule in place.  What can impact your parenting time is when you have extremely negative reactions to the lies and the games.

Professionals see these games all the time and for the most part, they do not simply take the word of one parent as gospel over the other.  No matter what your ex says about you, do not let it change who you are or give them the reaction that they crave.  Be confident in the truth and trust in professionals to see.  It can sometimes take a while, but eventually they will see the truth.  Remember, you were charmed or fooled by your ex when the two of you got together and over time, you found out who they really were.  The professionals only get little glimpses into each of you so it may be hard for them to see.  However, if you allow you ex enough rope, as they say, they will indeed hang themselves.  You do not have to prepare the noose or grab the rope to show it to anyone.  Leave your ex to falter with their own devices and do not take the low road that they do.

Truth stands the test of time; Lies are soon exposed ~ Proverbs 12:19

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Saving Face

Image courtesy of Ambrose at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ambrose at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After divorce, some people play the victim. It garners them attention and sympathy from others and helps them explain, in their own mind, that they are not at fault for the divorce.

Oddly enough, even though all US states are no fault divorce states, it doesn’t seem to matter. Fault or no fault, divorce can be deeply wounding to one’s ego. In order to show the world that they are not a bad person (and make themselves feel better), they have to portray a false reality that their ex is to blame. They will accuse their ex of having an affair, being mentally ill or turn it around in some other way. They may tell others that they initiated the divorce instead of telling the truth, that it was their ex who initiated the process.

Typically, these individuals fear being alone and will enter into a new relationship quickly, long before they are ready. They have done nothing to come to terms with the divorce or take the time to heal. They grab hold of the first person who comes along and buys their story. It helps them show the world: Hey, I am OK. See? Someone loves me. That other person had something wrong with them. That’s all. I am not a bad person. See how quickly someone found me?

Their new relationship develops during their grieving process over the divorce. These quick rebound relationships can interfere with, and may even halt that grieving process all together. Because they met their new significant other during the grieving process, they probably shared an embellished story about how evil their ex spouse was, giving their new mate an exaggerated impression of the truth in order to explain their misery.   The problem with embelleshed stories is that they will have to keep the story going for the duration of the new relationship so the new partner doesn’t learn the truth.  This can make things very confusing to an ex spouse who has to try co-parenting with the person who is trying to keep a storyline going.

Some ex-spouses struggle to understand why their child’s other parent hates them so and cannot let go of it or move beyond divorce and into a co-parenting relationship. If you are the ex who is constantly lied about, you may become defensive. You may also be very hurt and feel guilty about the divorce when you see the way your children’s other parent carries on with so much anger and tells lies, while you try to take the high road. You may hope that your ex will come to terms with the divorce so that your co-parenting relationship will improve. Unfortunately, you cannot make things better because it really is not about you.  This is all about your ex wanting to save face.

What does it mean to save face? To put it simply, to preserve one’s dignity. It has to do with how one sees him or herself and how he or she thinks the world sees them. If a person finds divorce to be a highly negative reflection of their self-worth, and is deeply wounded because their spouse, who promised to love, honor and cherish them no longer loves them, they often cannot see divorce as anything other than an acknowledgment that they are unlovable and a failure.

As the years go by, you may be shocked at how petty your co-parent is and stunned by their refusal to sit in the same room with you for the children’s extra curricular activities, doctor appointments and even mediation to settle a dispute about the children. Try not obsessing about changing the other parent, and do not make yourself a door mat and try to appease them in an effort to build a better relationship. If the other parent is saving face, nothing that you do will change the situation. It is all about keeping their secrets safe. Avoiding you, and making you out to be the bad guy, is the basis of their new relationship. They will move heaven and earth to keep the storyline going.

The avoiding parent lives in constant fear that if they start to repair the relationship with you, their new partner may start to see through all of the lies they’ve told over the years. They won’t risk being exposed as the liar they are. People who live a life based on lies will never risk a second breakup. The first one devastated them. Because they never took time to heal from that, another rejection would be unbearable. Eventually, the new partner may start to see that the story they have been told does not make sense, and your ex may possibly have to face their biggest fear, but again, you cannot change them, and it is not your responsibility to save them.

So what do you tell your kids when the other parent spreads lies and acts crazy? Tell your kids the truth. Tell them that you would like a better relationship with their mom/dad, and it is not possible right now. Tell your children that you do not understand why their other parent acts that way, but that you love them and will always be there for them no matter what. You may also want to tell them that you feel sorry for the other parent’s pain and hope that one day they will find a way to work through it. That is all you have to say. Then you must commit yourself to taking the high road and doing the best job of parenting that you can.

Hostile co-parenting relationships are not helped by seeking revenge or telling the other side what they need to do to make things better. You are the last person they will take advice from. Sometimes the best you can do is keep your own house in order and choose a healthier relationship for yourself, and leave your ex to battle their own demons.