*the following is a report from 8/23/11
Everybody thinks their Parenting Consultant hates them. The truth is that they don’t really give you much thought. I doubt they are losing any sleep over you, your family or your issues. They believe that they are making fair decisions. They may also, misguidedly, think that they can fix you and turn you into a happy family who lives happily ever after in divorce neverneverland. I don’t think that they have evil intentions, but as I mentioned, I think they are misguided.
Think about the role of a Parenting Consultant. Why does a court appoint them? Well, the main goal is for them to “manage” any issues so that high conflict cases don’t clutter up the court calendar. The main objective for them in their job is to keep you out of court. They really try to do that. Often, this causes some of them to go to far. They come off as biased or threatening, and their sense of power is exaggerated. They take it personally if you refuse to cooperate, scoff at their decisions, and insult them. Understand that for them, if they fail to keep you out of court, it is a huge reflection on them. They don’t want the Court to think they can’t do their job.
As I started to try to figure out how to get our Parenting Consultant off of our case, I tried to use some of the skills that I had learned at Anger Management. I had to try to have compassion for everyone. My anger stemmed from my inability to ask people for what I needed from them. I had always had a tough time accepting help from people and I didn’t always know what it was I needed. I thought I needed one thing, but the reality is that I really needed something else. If I did know what I needed, I was afraid to ask. My needs were never met and it was my own fault. Learning to accept the fact that other people make mistakes and may be reacting to a situation because their needs aren’t being met helped a great deal. I could then realize that the Parenting Consultant probably didn’t stay up all night finding ways to screw me over. No. It was more likely that she was protecting her reputation and didn’t have the complete picture. If they make you fear the court, you’ll stay away from court, maybe? That is how I started to look at it.
I don’t really know what makes some of these PCs tick. Some of them may enjoy wielding power over others. I just think it’s more likely that they lump everyone into the same category. They think that parents who fight are uneducated simpletons who need them to save the day and they take their roles a little too far. Imagine how you would feel if you could not meet the main objective that your boss had set for you. Wouldn’t you fear losing your job? The legal community is a rather tightly woven group. Many of the lawyers, Parenting Consultants, Guardian ad Litems and the like, run into each other from time to time on different cases, or at continuing education seminars they must attend. They generally respect their colleagues and assume they are good at what they do. If a PC was to have his/her clients always wind up back before the judge, that PC would appear to the court a failure.
You also have to understand that to them, you are just a case number. Parenting Consultants see this back and forth bickering all the time. It’s all very similar. Even when I hear case histories, many of them are so similar in nature that it seems like I may have worked with this same person or couple before. It is like someone has written a script and everyone frustrated in the court is reading from the script. You are not a case number to me though. I know exactly how it feels to go through years in court and then have a Parenting Consultant appointed who just doesn’t understand the situation. You also have to understand what is within their power to do for your family. They are not miracle workers. You may be asking them to fix your ex. Only your ex can fix your ex. You may be wanting them to see your ex for who he/she clearly is and not a fantasy image they have from the current dealings with your ex. Many people can be very calm, cool and collected when talking to the PC and they come off as being “a very nice person”. Think about this though. How long have you known your ex? How long did it take you to see them for what they are? You most likely didn’t see it for years, even though you lived with that person in the same house. You are asking a Parenting Consultant to believe something they don’t see before their very eyes and to see it in someone they are barely acquainted with. They see you and your ex briefly, periodically. The only thing they have to go on is what they experience. They don’t know what you have experienced. If you are the one who goes off on them, whether in person, by phone or even email, but your ex is always polite and reasonable, it is natural for the PC to think that you are the one with issues. You may very well be reacting to events that unfolded without the knowledge of the PC. Unfortunately, the PC only knows what they have experienced or what they are being told by each party. If you are hysterical when you talk to them, they tune you out. I have even heard PCs say that when someone leaves a message like that, they don’t listen to it, they delete it. It is easy to think that they PC remembers every event of your life, but they can’t keep track of everyone like that. Hopefully they keep some notes, but they may not. You may remember every detail about your case, but they cannot. They have other cases besides yours. They can’t remember everyone and every issue.
I don’t want you to think that I am pro Parenting Consultant because I am not. Not at all. I think most people would do much better with out a PC. Honestly, a murderer can serve their sentence and get out after serving their time and be left in peace to do what they want, but it seems with divorce, the court owns you until your child turns 18. Why can’t you just be divorced and have it over with? You haven’t broken any laws, yet it feels like you’re in prison. I know how it feels. My belief is that the world would be a much better place had the courts not gone the Parenting Consultant route.
You can’t always get free from a Parenting consultant, but you can cope. You should try to not live in fear of them. Really, Parenting Consultants do not have as much power as you think. If you don’t like their decision, you always have the right to go to court and challenge it. Some matters will have passed by the time you get a court date though. Be able and willing to accept that. You have to make sure that the Parenting Consultant has a clear idea of what you want.
Don’t focus on what your ex is requesting, focus on making it clear what you want. Your ex can worry about what he/she wants. You may not get what you want, but don’t agree to something you really aren’t comfortable with. Sometimes we focus so much on what we don’t want our ex to have that we forget to focus on what WE want. Give the PC alternatives. Instead of just refusing a request, try to offer a compromise. They love to think they they helped you negotiate a middle ground. Make sure they have all the information they need to make the proper decision. If they don’t have the right information, they will not m
ake the right decision.
Also, try to calm down. The absolute longest you will be stuck with a Parenting Consultant is your youngest child’s 18th birthday. It’s easy to think that these people are on you for life, but they are not. Remember that.