Who Is the Parent Here?
A Parenting Consultant is designed to help reduce parenting conflicts. Even though I do work as a Parenting Consultant, when I coach people who are struggling with post decree and parenting time issues, I do explain that agreeing to have a parenting consultant on your case should be a last resort. There is no greater nightmare in a high conflict divorce situation that to have a parenting consultant. If you are considering hiring one, do so only once you have done some research and are comfortable having one appointed for your family.
The legal community has very positive feelings about Parenting consultants. A lawyer, who has tired of the nastiness of your case, will often tell you that you should have a Parenting Consultant, they are wonderful and they will help reduce the conflict between the parents. If your attorney tells you this, please have him contact me with examples where a Parenting consultant has helped reduce conflict and end the battle. I have not seen this to be the case. My coaching clients all tell similar stories about Parenting Consultants who do not respond or will make decisions after talking to only one parent. Honestly, the people who come in to talk to me or call to consult by phone could be reading from a script. It is always, almost the same story and report of a parenting consultant “meddling” or “controlling” or “stirring the pot”.
I find that Parenting Consultants seem to prolong the bickering. There are some who seem to enjoy wielding power over parents. Some are just too busy with their law practice or other day job to take the time to address your family’s request in a timely fashion.
I do have to say that the use of parenting consultants is necessary. So far, I have yet to find other alternatives to the ongoing high conflict divorce, but I would recommend trying coaching first. Coaching is less expensive and focused on how you move forward through the conflict. The problem with a Parenting consultant is that when you hire one, you are turning over parental decision making to this person. You are the parent and should be making decisions about your children on your own. Unfortunately, the other parent has parental decision making ability, too. No matter what you might think of him or her, they are the other parent. Even if they have not been an involved parent in the past, the courts do view both parents equally and expect you both to make decisions about your children and to make those decisions together. This means that when you bring on a “case manager” like a parenting consultant, they, too, will expect you to make the decisions together. When you have not co-parented well in the past, it is hard to imagine that you will be able to do so now. It is possible, never give up hope of that, but it is unlikely, especially when your divorce has raged on and on for years. When the battle has raged, endlessly, most people will latch onto any offer of a solution, but the pattern I see is where people sign on with a parenting consultant and come away feeling trapped, frustrated, and hopeless and very angry that they have no say in the decisions about their children. Time and time again I hear, “I have no parental rights”, “the parenting consultant does not listen”, “things were bad before we had a parenting consultant, now they are impossible” from my clients.
I have my own history with a parenting consultant and I will share that experience with anyone, anytime. If there was one decision that was made during that time that I could go back and undo if I could, it would be the addition of a parenting consultant to our case. Once you agree to have a parenting consultant, it is extremely difficult to get rid of one. It is for that reason I urge people to have caution when inviting another entity into your family conflicts. Do your research on the role of parenting consultant, as well as the person you are hiring. Talk to someone who has first hand experience with a parenting consultant, even several people if you can. I invite you to have a coaching session with me to really discuss the role of a Parenting Consultant and why you think you need one. There may be another way to handle the issues for which you are considering a Parenting Consultant.
I charge $50 for a one hour session. It would be well worth the peace of mind to spend that time with me before making a decision that is hard to undo. I can help arm you with questions for your lawyer, on ways to make the process less intrusive for you. One hour, at a cost of $50 could save you tens of thousands of dollars in payments to a Parenting Consultant. We can also discuss the role of Parenting Time Expediters, which may be an alternative for you and meet your needs. If you already have a Parenting Consultant, I can help you communicate professionally and effectively in hopes of minimizing their role and keeping you in the driver’s seat as a parent. You do not have to live in Minnesota to meet with me. I am available for phone and email coaching as well.
Hiring a Parenting Consultant is a big decision. Take time to think it through and do your research. From day one, remind yourself that this person works for you and that you are the parent. Tell them that you expect them to be fair, you understand that you will not like all of their decisions, but you do expect that they will respect your rights and concerns as a parent and would appreciate that they always take great care when making a decision for your family.
About lifesdoorsmediationI am a mediator, Life and Divorce Coach and an Instructor of a High Conflict Divorce Program.
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