Light Path by dan
Image courtesy of Dan at


When I started my journey to help parents, the goal was to save them from the confusion I knew they felt and to make their journey shorter and less painful than the one I had walked.  I felt called to be a guide, a teacher and provide comfort when I could.  I never promised to have all the answers.  We are all human, after all.  We need that higher power.  We need to believe in something greater than ourselves.  We need hope that there is much more to the journey than our current situation.  We need hope.

I spent the time of my story all alone.  I was alone because I could not find anyone else who really understood.  I started out scared and alone, just me and my two boys, but I did ask God for help.  I did not think he was helping so I quickly dismissed God and searched for someone or something else.  When I did that, there was nothing but me and the prison I was building for myself.

When I was finally tired of my lonely misery and found no one else who understood or had real knowledge I turned back to God and found he was always there.  He had never left me.  I was simply refusing to see him, to hear him and to trust him.  When I gave in to what he was doing, my life changed.  I was freed from a prison that really only existed in my own mind.  The door had always been open for me to walk through.

I was blessed and I wanted to share that blessing, that peace, that freedom with others who were held captive in their imaginary prisons.  I wanted them to see what I finally saw.  The door to your prison is already open.  You simply have to walk through it!

I went on to walk a new journey of helping parents escape the pain of divorce and high conflict custody battles.  Those who are open to change receive great rewards.  I share with them the secret to conquering Family Court and painful relationships.

While I am a mediator, parenting consultant, and parenting time expeditor in Minnesota, and I enjoy that work to a degree, those roles offer limited success.  Results depend on the good faith of the individuals involved.  The success or failure comes from the skills and abilities of the parents themselves and their desire to escape their own prison.

What I really enjoy is teaching.  It is in the one on one work that I do where I see dramatic results for parents.  It even works for high conflict families.  How wonderful it is to see fear and anxiety replaced with peace and confidence and to see that spill over for children.  Parents living peace and confidence are able to offer so much more to their children than are parents who struggle with pain and trauma.  Pain and trauma will not help you find your way out of a paper bag!  Pain, trauma and the stress of a journey through the darkness of family court, leaves you stuck.  Fumbling and stumbling because you aren’t aware of your true power makes you rely on professionals to light the way.   What you do not realize is most of the professionals don’t know the way either.  Even if they do, the professionals will not light your path for you.  They are trying to show you where the light is.  You have to take it.  It is not the lawyer’s job to teach you.  It is not the mediator’s job to teach you.  It isn’t the parenting coordinator’s job to teach you.  In some cases, I have made it my job to teach, but I can only do that in the one-on-one services I provide.  I’ve decided that will be my main focus in this coming year and beyond.

I will show you the way and offer guidance, but the work is up to you and you alone.  It is not easy, but you can free yourself and your children from the pain and trauma of Family Court and High Conflict divorce.  Even when your co-parent keeps inflicting more and more control, financial hardship and fear on you, there are ways to expose their attacks for what they are and find peace for your own house.

The goal of our the programs offered at Life’s Doors Mediation is to clue you in to what you do not understand so that you can free yourself from a narcissistic ex, a bipolar co-parent, toxic co-parenting and really understand why it is you feel so trapped.  We also share with you the truth about Family Court professionals.  Why don’t they seem to know what they are doing?  Why don’t lawyers help you?  Why don’t parenting consultants seem to care about domestic abuse?  We have programs that are specifically created to help victims of domestic violence.  Check out our program, Victim in the System.


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Victim in the System logo-a trademark of Life’s Doors Mediation


We also help those in High Conflict situations.  Are you tired of it yet?  Do you want out of the control?  Check out what High Conflict U has to offer.  There is even a free e-course about Parenting Consultants and Coordinators!


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High Conflict U-a trademark of Life’s Doors Mediation


You have nothing to lose!  If you have tried everything else and found no help, why not try something new in this New Year?  Pick our brains as to why your situation seems so backwards and upside down.

While Life’s Doors Mediation can only provide mediation, parenting consulting and parenting time expeditor services to parents in Minnesota, our coaching and educational programs are without limits.  We can assist anyone in the United States, or even the world, to move beyond the prison of Family Court.  You owe it to yourself and your children to try something new!  It is always a free consult.  What have you got to lose?


I’ve Seen Enough!

What this lady says is true!  We need to restore our liberties.  Family Court is way out of control.

Where is Your Focus?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

As a Life and Divorce coach, I am sometimes misunderstood and misinterpreted.  Over the years, I brought myself out of a deep dark place and into a life of joy and happiness.  I have successfully shown many others how to turn their backs on the darkness and move into their own piece of happiness, focusing on finding their way to the life they dream of.  I’ve been able to help many people, but not everyone.  Some people want to stay stuck.  If an individual wants to stay stuck in something bad, there is nothing I can do.  There is also nothing a psychologist, lawyer, or judge can do either.  They may try, but ultimately they will have to leave you behind and move onto the people who will work with them to get where they want to be.

I work mostly with people in the Family Court System.  These are parents who find themselves in a high conflict divorce situation, getting beaten to a pulp (legally) by the confounding judge, who is unable to understand what the heck it is that drives you to do the things you do.

I understand domestic violence.  I understand parental alienation (which is not the same as Parental Alienation Syndrome).  I understand Domestic Violence Organizations.  I understand Father’s Rights Groups. I understand the parent who lives under a microscope for years.  I understand the legal community.  I understand the psychologists.  I understand a lot of what happens in Family Court.  I understand how people got into the mess they have gotten themselves into.  Understanding all these things does not mean that I want you to focus on them.

I can lose someone’s attention and respect when I tell them that they and their attorney are putting too much emphasis on domestic violence in their family court case.  I also anger people when I tell them that parental alienation syndrome is not real.  That statement can be confused with not believing that parental alienation happens.  I know it happens.  I have even experienced it for myself.  It happened to my youngest son and I, at the hands of a manipulative father, but my son and I are closer than ever now because I always trusted him to know truth and to figure out what was happening.  I did what I could, left alone what I could not do, and put my energy into waiting for my son to be ready to restore our relationship.  I had faith that I had raised him in a way in which he would see truth, and now, we are closer than ever.

It was a long way from being blind sided by the nastiness of Family Court to getting to where I am today.

More than believing in parental alienation, I believe that co-dependence and Legal Abuse Syndrome are likely driving the on-going family court nightmares.  A good psychologist should tell you that as long as there is one strong parent, your child can overcome the trauma, regardless of what your ex throws at you.  I have seen this to be true.  In my own case, I stopped being the victim of domestic violence and stopped adding to the drama.  I wanted a better life for my children and myself.  That meant that I would have to pull myself up by my bootstraps, get healthy, and work with the professionals in the Family Court System on their level.  They were not going to listen to me if I only spoke to them when I was at the point of hysterics.  I was never heard when I screamed and swore at them, and you won’t get far with that either.  They were not going to allow me to educate them.  These were educated professionals and if I was so smart, how come I couldn’t put an end to this conflict in my family?  Why did they have to make decisions about my children?  They could not understand and I could not make them understand.  I found them to be obstacles to moving on with my life.  They were also, definitely,  hindering my children’s development.  I found that they were not the answer and they should not be my focus.  Instead, my focus should be on myself, and my children.  That is when I began to turn that ship around, and in doing so, I freed myself and my children of those professionals forever.  No more obstacles.  No more hindrances.

This is what I do for my clients as well.  Please don’t think that this can happen overnight.  It is a process.  I help my clients through that process, too.  Not every consult turns into a client though.  Some people think I am nuts and they never come back.  They do not want to give up that crutch of family court.  That is sad because most people come to me due to their frustration with how the Family Court is not helping the situation, but is instead, making it much, much worse and they don’t want to refocus there energy anywhere else.  It is a lot of work, and it is painful and ugly to peel back the layers of you, and so some people cannot stomach it.

Think about this for a minute.  Maybe it will make sense to you and maybe it won’t.  I can only put it out there and hope that you can make some sense out of it.  When you are a victim of domestic violence and look to the family court to help you with it, that is your focus.  If you keep focusing there, and seek professionals who will understand, that focus is taking your time, energy and money away from having the life you want.  You may think that you cannot have the life you want, but I am sorry to tell you, it is not true.  You are the one keeping your life and your children’s lives in the family court.  Your ex may stay there, and he or she may use it against you, but if you really get yourself strong, stay confident in your truths, and put your focus outside of the court, you will see miracles happen.  The people I see who beat this system at its own game, refocus on their life and their children and slowly shift their thoughts and energies away from their nasty ex and the nasty court people, are the ones who succeed in getting their story told.  The people who latch on to their domestic violence experience or try to expose parental alienation will find that  they ramp up the conflict, get more deeply embedded in the Family Court System, and feel more and more stuck over time.  I am not saying that domestic violence or parental alienation should be tolerated or ignored.  I am not saying that at all.  What I am saying is you cannot push those memes the entire time because there are only certain ways to successfully use those arguments in family court.

Not everything involved with the conflict is related to domestic abuse or parental alienation.  Some things are communication issues and related to how you speak to or correspond with you ex.  Some issues are related to those Mars-Venus, male-female issues, too.  Some issues have to do with the stage of development your child is in, as well, and so you need to really consider what is driving the conflict for each particular issue that arises.  You cannot blame everything on domestic violence or parental alienation because the professionals don’t always have any recourse.

This post may anger some people and intrigue others.  It’s hard to really explain it all in one blog post!  If you are interested in finding out how to free yourself of the family court, as much as possible, please contact me.  I’d love to consult with you to tell you more.  There is nothing more rewarding for me than to see a client who grasps these concepts and takes back their life!

Do You Recommend Your Parenting Consultant or PTE?

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When I created my first website, I had a page called, “Rate Your PC”.  My plan was to collect information on all Parenting Consultants in Minnesota so we could find out if there were any good ones, and keep the good ones in business while weeding out the bad ones.  At the time, my attitude about being a PC was, “Hell NO!”  I NEVER wanted to inflict that kind of damage on a family.  Period.

After working as a coach, it turned out that most of my clients came to me for help dealing with their parenting consultant and hostile co-parent.  I blogged about PCs and people would find me because of that.  After a while, I decided that I really needed to write a book because all of the questions were the same: “How do you get rid of a parenting consultant (coordinator)?” “Why won’t they do something about my ex?”  “How did I become the bad guy in all of this?”  “Can you file a complaint against a PC?”  All of these questions and more are covered in my book, “The Parenting Consultant Nightmare”

As part of my research for the book, I attending the training to be a Parenting Consultant.  Don’t think for a moment that my stomach wasn’t queasy.  It was.  I attended the Parenting Time expediter training as well, even though it was facilitated by my former PTE and PC.  I think she was much more intimidated than I was.  Because the training was pretty good, I did decide to offer these services.  It’s something I struggle with all the time.  Is it the right thing to do?  If you have any feedback on the question, I hope you’ll either comment after the post, or send in a contact form through the website.  Many clients tell me they want me to offer those services because I “get it”.  Still, if I am their coach, I cannot be their PC.  Anyway, having attended the training, and offering PC services, made me rethink that “Rate your PC” page.  Not because I felt hypocritical in collecting the data, and not because I have become “one of them”, but because I realized it was not giving me what I was looking for.

Being a friend to parents who deal with  high conflict co-parenting situations is not easy.  I can help you with many things, and I have succeeded in empowering people into making the system work better for them, but I cannot make the situation go away completely. If you have a co-parent who is always on the attack, they are going to stay on the attack, however, if you are empowered, their interest in you tends to decrease significantly.  The less reactive you are, the less they continue to try.  So I have had to rethink and shift gears as I learn more about the issue from the viewpoint of the parenting consultants or parenting coordinators, and what works for you and what doesn’t and have changed my approach somewhat.  I decided to stop collecting that data and had good reasons to stop collecting it.

One reason was that I did not get any good reviews.  If anyone has had a parenting consultant or parent coordinator on your case, that makes sense.  You would not expect to find anyone who knows how to manage these high conflict cases.  But are there really no good ones?  Typically, people are willing to take time reporting a negative, but rarely will report a positive.  I’d like to find out there are some good ones available, but it did not look like anyone would let me know that aspect.

Another reason  I quit collecting data is because people are afraid.  They are not going to turn in that information unless they know me and trust me.  Let’s face it, those of you in high conflict cases involving a PC just do not trust anyone.  You end up wondering where the information goes and who does it go to and worry that you may not stay anonymous?  My clients do learn they can trust me, and that I am not “one of them (PCs)” so through my daily work I can learn who the good and bad PCs are.  Again, no good PCs to report, but if you had someone who actually decreased the conflict, why would you be looking for a website, blog or coach to tell that story to?  Most likely, you would just go about living life, quite happily, I might add.  I still like to hold out hope that there are some out there.

Since I no longer collect information about PCs,  I want to share with you a website where you can write a review of your parenting consultant, parenting coordinator or parenting time expediter.  It has been around for a while, but the owner of the site  is not really going through those court issues anymore, from what I understand, and so I don’t think the owner does much with the site anymore.  That makes it harder to find when searching on the internet.  You can help move it up in the searches by adding reviews. The reviews are listed as a Parenting Time Expediter directory, but most PTEs also work as PCs.

For anyone who wants to write a review of their court professional, please do so on that directory site.  I think it would be an excellent resource for parents who need to choose a PC or PTE, whether the first time appointing one, or if the old one has left the case and they need to appoint someone new.  If you have anyone to report on, please do it at:

I hope that we can raise awareness about that site so that people can come away with options for who to appoint and not to appoint.  Remember, it is important to share who the good guys are.  It’s not just about the bad guys!

You Cannot Know What You Cannot Know

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As someone who experienced the harsh world that is High Conflict Divorce, first hand, I have been helping others navigate the process for as far back as 2000.  I was never prepared for the sheer lunacy of the family court system and, like most, was waist deep in it before I got a clue as to how unhelpful it was.  I often had no recourse and even if there was some action that could be taken, I often did not have enough money to pay for an attorney, at the exact time I needed an attorney.

I have seen the shock on faces of those who have not experienced the system.  When you tell your story to the lay person, they often stare in disbelief.  They cannot fathom that your children are being treated the way they are and no one will step in to protect them.

I am in an interesting position because I have some connections in the legal field.  Plus, I work with high conflict parents.  The stories are similar, and I know that these parents tell the truth.  Truth is a matter of perception and it can be misinterpreted or exaggerated, but the pain that high conflict parents experience is real.  My belief is that if we can support those parents, no matter what anyone in the system perceives truth to be, we would then be able to help these families, but the problem is that very few in the system actually understand it.

I have had to work very hard to share what I see and what I believe.  I work very hard because I am not an attorney, and I am not a licensed psychologist.  I do not have the credentials to make those in authority listen to me, except for a rare few.  The thing I have is personal experience, and a way of explaining things so that people can understand.  They may never be able to understand completely, but they can get some of it, and that is what is important.  Every little bit helps.

The most important thing though, is to help you get deeper into you, who you are, and why you have found yourself in this hellish place of the family court nightmare.  So I want to share with you a commonality that High Conflict Parents have.  This has been a common theme with almost every parent I have worked with.  You have all had to live through having a parent who was an alcoholic, or a parent who was abusive, and there are some other common threads out there, but for the most part, you are an Adult Child of Dysfunction.  You grew up in that relationship and when you grew up that is the relationship you knew.  That is what seemed familiar to you, and the result was that you picked a mate who would repeat for you the relationship you had with one, or both of your parents.

When I learned this about myself, it was life altering.  Wow!  I was excited!  You mean, I don’t have to be this way?  I don’t have to feel lousy all the time because of people who suck the life out of me and give me nothing, but pain in return?  I did not give into this very easily until the light bulb went off in my head and I was ready to look within.

A couple of years before my light bulb moment, a therapist had told me that people choose a relationship just like their parents had.  I was perplexed and confused by what she said.  My husband was an alcoholic, but my father was not.  In my mind, I equated the similarity in my husband and my relationship with that of my parents’ relationship, but was not seeing the role reversal.  It played out in my head numerous times.  I did not choose the same because my dad is not an alcoholic, I told myself.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that therapist must have been crazy to suggest such a thing because my dad rarely touched a drop of liquor.  But, finally, one day, it hit me!  OMG, I did choose the same relationship, only I was my dad, my ex was my mom.  That is when the healing began.

I don’t want to go into a long drawn out story about my mother’s drinking, and the affect it had on me, but I will tell you that I had no clue about what was not normal in a family who keeps secrets, speaks to each other through filters, or manipulates people into doing things for them or against another family member.  I was surrounded by people like these.  It was in my family.  It was the same with friends.  It was a learned behavior, a behavior learned from birth, no less.  Birth!  If this is what I was surrounded with, and what I learned by example, and I never got to experience a healthy relationship, then how could I know any different?  How could I not have that experience repeat itself, especially in a system that is ripe for a higher level of that secrecy, lying and manipulation?    This system wants to give you a court order saying that you will co-parent, but they give you no direction on what exactly that means.  Court authorities lay this in your lap and basically say, “Now go co-parent for the good of your children”.  Then, when you cannot accomplish this feat, the torture begins.  You can never win at this game because they are asking you to do something you have never done, seen, or heard of in your life and you simply don’t know how to do it. 

You try as hard as you can to do as they say and then get criticized.  You are not even sure why, most of the time.  You just know this is how it has always been.  One person tries to hurt the other, the other person walks on eggshells trying not to “make them mad” and you still end up having everyone angry at you anyway.  So how do we rectify this situation?  I suspect that we cannot rectify it in the court setting because they will never be able to walk in your shoes and you will never be able to walk in their shoes.  You cannot know what you cannot know!  What is worse, we have no idea if the professionals on the case have their own Adult Children of Dysfunction issues or not.  If they do, they will probably never go after the bully because they, too, learned to walk on eggshells and not make waves.  You cannot know what you cannot know.

If no one ever teaches you what a healthy relationship is, you will never find one.  As soon as you try, it would feel as foreign to you as if you were in a foreign land without a translator.  You may find a table full of wonderfully kind people and sit down with them, hoping to fit in, but feel lost.  And if you saw a table of people who speak your language, even if they were very mean and uncaring people, you would feel more at ease with them.  At least in that instance, you understand them, and it is comfortable to you.  You don’t have to try hard to fit in because you have always been surrounded by those types of people.

Undoing this damage from the dysfunctional environment you grew up in is not easy.  First, you have to be made aware of how unhealthy the people around you are.  You have to let that sink in and realize it is true.  You have to learn this new way of doing things and then you have to practice at it.  It will not happen overnight.  It takes a lot of practice to break free and you also have to step over the fear of the unknown because again, you cannot know, what you cannot know.

If you are involved in a high conflict divorce, and just cannot understand why you cannot get out of it, I’d like you to consider the possibility that you are an Adult Child of an Alcoholic/Dysfunction.  It may not apply to you, but it may lead you to other areas of understanding.  Check out these resources:

There are many more.  Do your own research. 

Here are a few boo
ks that I highly recommend:

Compassionate Eyes

Part of teaching the High Conflict Diversion Program is to help parents learn to have some compassion for their child’s other parent.  It is very hard to do, especially when they seem to go out of their way to make your life miserable, but learning to have compassion for them is not really about them.  It is about freeing yourself from the wounds of your past and moving into a new future.  You may not have control of the court battle, but you can control the future path you travel.

I know that many people enduring any prolonged conflict carry within them a lot of anger, hurt, resentment and pain.  Sometimes we lash out at other people because of those feelings and emotions.  It isn’t healthy to live life this way for very long.  Stress and anger have deep effects on our mental and physical health.  Those who continue living in the pain are more likely to repeat these patterns, or get stuck right where they are in life, waiting until something magical frees them.  What they do not know is that the key to their freedom is within them.  No one else can free you.  You have to be willing to learn and grow and move away from that pain and into the freedom of a new life.  It takes a willingness, some time, and an active effort to get there.

The following video is an awesome example of how to see people with compassion.  You cannot know what is going on within your friends, neighbors, coworkers, or even your ex.  We like to believe that we know the inner workings of our ex, and we may understand a great deal about them, but once we are no longer married to that person, we only think we know.  Deep down there may be reasons for their behavior or reasons why they cannot move forward with their own life.  You may never know what those reasons are.  By treating them compassionately, you can start to empathize with them.  You do not have to like them.  You do not have to help them, but it would serve everyone well, even your children, if you could say, I am going to move away from this bitterness and have a happier life, regardless of what the other parent does.  If you don’t know, the best revenge on an ex is to live a happy life.  Happiness comes from giving others the benefit of the doubt when they behave badly, seeing your part in any conflicts and taking steps to correct that, and to be the best person that you possibly can.  You will be an example for your children and you can teach them compassion by showing them how it is done.

Please watch this fantastic video from Fellowship Bible church in Arkansas.  Make it go viral, please!

On the Move

Image courtesy of Ambro/

I have an announcement to make!  Life’s doors Mediation will be moving to a new location as of March 1, 2014.  As you may know, in March of 2013, I joined the Circle of Healing Arts Cooperative, and moved to Coon Rapids.  There were many great things about this move, but some were not the best for my clients or my plans to bring the High Conflict Diversion Program to Minnesota. 

This winter has absolutely stunk, to put it mildly, and crossing the river can be especially challenging any day, but this winter?  Almost hopeless.  You had to be extremely motivated to drive anywhere this year!  Thank you to those willing to make the journey to Coon Rapids for class.

There have also been expansion plans for me and others in the co-op, but the building we are in was starting to fill up.  It has left me without very good options for my classroom.

I love the people at the Circle of Healing Arts so this has been a difficult decision.  Still, what I want to offer to my clients and students made me decide it was time to change, sooner, rather than later.  I am a go getter and will do what I need to do to keep things moving forward for me and my clients.  You need help and I will bring you options.  I hope that Life’s doors Mediation becomes known for not only mediation and coaching, but also as a great place for education for families.  I have a lot of information to share with you!

As of March 1st, I will be back in Brooklyn Center.  Not in my old building.  This one is just down the road a couple of blocks from there.  This will be an exciting move.  I cannot wait to show you all the new classrooms there!  This place used to be a college so it is all setup for what I need and better able to accommodate my students more comfortably.

I may even be moved in earlier than the first.  Keep an eye out.  Once I get settled in, I will be making changes to the website and this blog.

I hope you will join me when you need mediation, coaching or classes that help you move forward toward your goals.  I do not have anything listed yet, but working on a class for Adult Children of Alcoholics, which is another area of my expertise.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call 763-566-2282 or email me at