Don’t Let Them Scare You!

Young Couple Watching Scary Movie On Tv by marcolm
Image Courtesy of marcolm at freedigitalphotos.net

As a parent who navigated the Family Court System myself, it pains me to see all of the false information out in the Blogosphere and on Social Media that the uninformed have written, trying to entice you into joining their battles against Family Court and other systems that parents may encounter.  I get very upset at the thought that you might buy into the junk they are trying to sell you.

Last week, some blogger/coach was promoting an event through Facebook and because I am always looking for good folks to join me in providing solid information to parents, I decided to join the event and see what the person had to say.  The event was earlier today.  I am both glad I did join in and at the same time horrified that I wasted time on that.  The women is definitely someone I’d put in the category of misinformation-Blog-o-fears-gullible-nitwit.  I am not going to name them, their blog or their website, because you could be harmed if you pay any attention to them and I do not want to help them build an audience.  Quite frankly, I hope no one finds them at all.  Thank God only 3 people joined the big event today and I was one of them, which only leaves 2 people who could possibly be fooled.

Long story short, the blogger is another parent who believes in falsehoods and because they did, lost custody of their children.  They refuse to believe that they could be in any way flawed as a parent and so it is easier to believe in conspiracy theories than to have to self reflect.

Keep in mind that I often hear from clients about these sorts of blogs, organizations or groups, who are out there to “help” and I often have to offer reality checks and counter the nonsense that they have heard from these “helpers”.  So let’s look at the leader or founder of these types of organizations.  A common theme is that they lost custody of their child or had their child taken away “for no reason at all”.  OK.  So let’s say that is true.  They did nothing wrong.  They were just minding their own business, sitting at home and some evil entities came to the door from Family Court and removed the children from their home.  I have never heard one single case of this happening.  Not one.  So, anyway, my first question to a parent who wants to follow them is why would you follow their example?  They lost custody of their children.  Are they the role model to follow?  I think you should run like hell from them and find someone who knew how to get custody or at least keep it.  Doesn’t that sound more logical?  If any of you think that listening to the advice of a parent who lost custody is a wise idea, give me a call.  Seriously, I need it explained to me how that is ever helpful.  Call me at 763-566-2282 and let me know why I should change my thinking on it.  If I am wrong, I will admit that I am wrong and I will make corrections because I have the ability to self reflect.  I think my ability to self reflect may have been one of the keys to the positive outcome my own family experienced in our family court case.  If you think that it is logical to want to follow in the footsteps of parents who lost custody and sometimes all rights to their children, I do want to connect with you, for your children’s sake, if nothing else.

Your children are much too precious to put your faith in someone who doesn’t demonstrate an ability to succeed, no matter what it is they are trying to succeed at, and I care about parents way too much to sit idly by while they are being taught a bunch of nonsense.  It could cost a parent dearly and it could cost their children dearly.  At the very least, you should talk to people who hold an opposite view of the system so that you can weigh the difference between what was said by the system hater and those who “get” the ins and outs of the system, and decide for yourself which stance seems more logical and which path seems more likely to help you achieve your goals.  On the Family Court hating side, you have people who have all lost custody and still cannot seem to figure out the reason why and on the side who uses Family Court appropriately, you have some folks who kept or won custody of their children and they know exactly how they achieved their goals.  One side tried to cut the other parent out of their child’s life completely, mainly because of their inability to cope or manage co-parenting.  The other side was able to put their child’s needs before their own and wouldn’t dream of cutting their co-parent out of their child’s life.  This might be one hint to what equates to success in Family Court, hint, hint.  On the blog of fears side of the table, the leader of the pack has no clue what lead to them losing custody.  Do you really think they can show you the ropes if they are clueless like that?  On the successful side of Family Court encounters, parents can self reflect and not feel threatened by the other parent.  They know that both parents can win, although it is up to each one individually if that is going to happen.  Those parents are not going to try to scare you.  Their goal is to assist you and feel empowered as a parent.  I certainly hope you’ll think long and hard about the people you allow to help you through Family Court because another thing about those who “get it” is, they typically can recommend the best professionals to use, the ones who did help them.  They had professionals who understood their case, did the right thing and took the right action.  Many professionals will be willing to help you when you are able to help yourself, too.

So why do these blogs-of-fear people give out false information and try to scare you?  I have some theories.  The truth is that the nitwit people, like that blogger I listened to, are miserable.  They are miserable because they live in a land called denial and they refuse to see the truth.

Theory # 1:

Misery loves company.  Something horrible happened to them and they need you to make them feel better about it because if they are able to pull a bunch of you into it and you lose your children, too, then they are not alone in their misery.  They can use you as another example of how mean and nasty Family Court and Systems are.

I find it laughable how many disgruntled parents tell stories of Family Court professionals getting incentives for stealing their children away from them.  So, if Family Court is getting an incentive to take children away from parents, why did their ex get to keep the child?  Wouldn’t there be twice the money to take kids away from both parents?  No one wants to take your children, but parents sometimes do face harsh consequences when they continue to put their child in the middle of a nasty battle and/or make the child choose sides.

As I mentioned before, nobody is sitting around minding their own business and then Family Court comes to your door and makes you get divorced and have a custody battle.  Those are voluntary things.  I can attest that it doesn’t feel voluntary when you are not the one who filed for divorce.  Maybe your spouse filed and dragged you in kicking and screaming.  They were able to do this because you are in a legal entanglement of coupledom and they decided it was time to end the marriage they voluntarily entered into, which included certain legal entanglements.  They voluntarily entered into the marriage, but they have to seek court permission to get out of it so that those legal entanglements can be undone, like it or not.  Most people know in their heart that if a spouse wants a divorce, it doesn’t make any sense to force them to stay.  Divorce is hard.  It is sad.  It is the death of some dreams, but it may also end up being the best thing that ever happened to you and it can be a beneficial thing for children when their parents emotionally process their negative feelings about the life change, grieve the loss and build new lives full of new opportunities.

Theory #2:

They really do think they can take down Family Court.  They have an upside down view of Family Law and they really do think everything that happens there is illegal or unconstitutional.  Because they couldn’t “save their child”, they are going to save the rest of the world to make up for it.  It is very noble thinking to save the world, but when I coach parents, my advice is always to save yourself first.  Once you have succeeded in freeing your own family from a life of  nonstop Family Court action, you will have a plethora of knowledge to share, not to mention credibility.  Only when you succeed are you able to fully explain to someone else how they can succeed, as well.  To be honest, once a parent succeeds in taking control of their life in spite of a nasty ex and in the midst of court proceedings, they understand that there was a method to the madness and know that it lead to tremendous personal growth.

Theory #3:

They hate their ex more than anything else in the world.  They are consumed with hatred.  So much hatred, in fact, that they cannot see anything or anyone else.  They cannot say to themselves, “I love my child more than I hate my ex and will do anything to help my child”.

Theory #4:

They have extremely low self esteem.  They have no love for themselves and would rather go it alone, operating under false beliefs than to seek help, especially if they may have to admit that they need help or they have some problems with relationships.  In their minds, it is better to continue presenting a fake self than the real self they despise.  Deep down maybe they want to lose and create a self fulfilling prophecy?

Theory #5:

They may just be evil.  Some people want to hurt others.  Because they could not succeed, they don’t want to see anyone else succeed either.  All they want to do is destroy anyone in their path.

Whatever the reason that some people want to spread misinformation and make you afraid of Family Court, do not let them do it to you.  If you need real help, there is help for you.  Parents in Family Court need to have mentors, parents who went through the system and found solutions for their family.  Parents do not need to be terrified that they will lose their children.  It is a rare case where that happens and those parents are doing harm to their child.  They just may not be able to see it.

Divorce and co-parenting can be very difficult to navigate and if your ex spouse wants to put you through the worst experience of your life, it can seem overwhelming and unmanageable.  Look for people who help. Look for people like me and the team of mentors I am building at High Conflict U.  Do I have an ulterior motive?  Yes, I do.  I hope that you will succeed and build the life you dream about with your children and what would be even better than that is if I could convince you to positively help others through so that they can succeed as well.

Family Court can be a tool or a weapon.  That is a matter of fact.  However, you can choose not to use it as a weapon and if your ex decides to ttack you with it, there are people like me who will absolutely support you through it and help you turn the attacks back on the attacker, all while keeping your children out of the middle and living as carefree a childhood as possible.

If you need help with anything Family Court or Co-parenting related, help is just a phone call away at Life’s Doors Mediation, 763-566-2282 or High Conflict U at (800) 516-2446.

Marital Advice and Marital Mediation

Here is a video from Henry Winkler offering the secret to a long marriage.  There is a lot if truth in what he says and it doesn’t matter if you are married, divorced people trying to co-parent, a parent and child relationship in conflict or even experiencing issues between friends.  It is not about how you meant it, but how it lands!  See what Henry Winkler says…

 

 

Many people do not know that Life’s Doors Mediation offers much more than divorce services.  We also offer Marital Mediation and relationship coaching services.  Our goals is to improve relationships.  No matter where two people are in their relationship, they can move beyond conflict and reach a peaceful coexistence.  We’ve had married couples and unmarried couples come in to learn communication and conflict management skills without any mediation at all, but we have also helped parents with teenage children and couples who are struggling to stay together negotiate their way to a workable relationship through non legal mediation processes.  Agreements do not have to be written.  It gives people a chance to discuss their needs in the relationship and try to get to a place of understanding from the other side.  Many couples want to discuss their needs and desires and agree to a way forward.  Couples who use marital mediation can avoid divorce, but it has nothing to do with any court process.  It is simply an agreement between two people.  The agreement can be written or simply be a verbal agreement.  It is a matter between the two people involved whether they wish an agreement be written or not.  Because these types of agreements are usually not very involved, the fees are much lower than it would be for a court involved case.

If you would like more information on informal marital or relationship mediation, please contact Susan Carpenter at Life’s Doors Mediation via phone, 763-566-2282 or email: susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com.  You may also want to check out High Conflict U for our relationship, communication and conflict skill building classes and programs.  There are times when you may be able to save your marriage or restore a relationship.  As Henry Winkler said, both people have to willing.  If that is where you are at, despite any problems you are having, reach out and see if Life’s Doors Mediation or High Conflict U may be able to help.

Embattled Parents Wanted

Image courtesy of sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of sakhorn38 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you had your fill of Family Court?  Are you tired of the battle, and think or hope that your ex is sick of it, too?

 

Life’s Doors Mediation is looking for parents who have been at war for too long and want to find a new way to parent, whether that means co-parenting, parallel parenting, or something else that we come up with.  I have been quite successful in changing the direction of parents who are looking to the family court for answers.  I’d like to help you.

If you live in Minnesota, please give me a call.  The first 2 parents who call me will get a free assessment to see if we can make a positive change to your situation.  I will even contact your ex to see if they would be willing to call a truce.  After that, I will work with you separately or together, as needed without charge. You have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain.  Your children have a lot to gain also.

Can you be a little vulnerable and let go of the family court crutch?  Find out today, 763-566-2282.  You can also email me at susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com.

 

Now or Later

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Relationship problems suck.  They really do.  When you are married, relationship problems suck even more.  When you have children, the stakes are extremely high.

As a coach, I talk to people who are looking for help.  They may want to try communication coaching.  Sometimes, one or both partners have anger issues, and they might want to look into Anger Management.  They may even be contemplating divorce.

Divorce will scare the crap out of you.  Sometimes, it is sprung on you.  Your spouse has determined, without talking to you about it, that they want a divorce.  They have thought it over for a long time, and come to the decision.  You can’t change their mind.  It is done.

Other times, you talk together about how the relationship is not working.  This is a great time to act.  Even if you think this is not a great time because you are on the brink of divorce, it really is an opportunity.  There is something positive in the fact that you have been able to talk about this together.  That shows promise!

For parents of small children, you really need to see the opportunity in this situation.  While some couples will choose to divorce, others may find that they don’t have to.  If no one has come to the divorce decision yet, there is still time, and there is certainly a lot of wisdom in waiting to make that decision while you spend time working on your issues.

Relationship problems are a two-way street.  It is rarely about the actions of just one person in a couple.  The relationship didn’t start out sour.  If it had, why would you have gotten married?  Why would you have had a child together?  There was potential there and most likely still is.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: If I need to make some changes to improve my relationship, should I do it now, in an effort to save my marriage, or should I do it later, to work on the co-parenting relationship?  If you and your spouse have a child together, you are going to have to continue to build that relationship, aren’t you?  If you have trust or anger issues in your marriage, won’t you still have them in the co-parenting relationship, too?

When a relationship has problems, most people seem to know where their own personal weakness lies.  They often know, or are willing to learn about their faults.  If the two people are willing to make changes to improve their lives, it would be better to do it now, before more damage is done, than to have to do it later.  Just something to consider.

Divorce was a good thing for me.  I am not sure my children would agree that it was a good thing for them.  Divorce might be a good thing for you but it might be worth really making sure that you cannot salvage that relationship, especially if you have children who end up being part of that relationship forever, no matter what it becomes.

National Day of Prayer

 

I Can’t tell you what prayer and miracles from above have meant to my life. I know that not everyone believes, but I can tell you that it was the difference between living and dying from my ordeal. I also know that my most successful clients survive and thrive because they believe.

If you have never tried the power of prayer before, why not give it a try today, on this national day of prayer? You have nothing to lose and it just might change your heart, mind, and direction of your life!

Blessings to all!

Positively Productive Mediation Experiences

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mediation can be an anxiety and fear producing experience.  it is rarely something people look forward to.  Many of the first conversations I have with people who are in the process of finding a mediator involve the following language, or something similar:

“Well, _________ says we have to try mediation.   It will probably be a very short meeting because we can never agree on anything.  I just don’t see him/her saying anything other than, “NO!”.  That’s all it ever is.”

Still, they are willing to set up that appointment and come in to mediate, and they are usually very surprised at the outcome.

Rarely does anyone look forward to mediation.  Usually, the parties have not spoken in quite some time, and if they have, the conversation quickly escalates into an argument.  Nobody wants to embrace conflict.  Conflict is unpleasant and something most people do their best to avoid.  The thought of sitting down in a room with this person seems unthinkable because of the history of the relationship and because you know this person all too well.  You can only think of all the mean and nasty things that other person has ever said to you, and every horrible experience you have been through with them or because of them.  Those negative thoughts are why it is easier to ignore the problem, rather than deal with the problem.  However, if you don’t deal with the problem, it will not go away.  Sometimes when that problem is dropped into the legal process, it will only grow bigger.  Legal proceedings are relationship problems on steroids.

If you can look at mediation not as a conflict, but as an opportunity to come to resolution, you can quickly see areas where you and the other person have some common ground.  A good mediator will point out areas where the two of you are in agreement from early in the process.  You need to remember that mediation is not only anxiety and fear producing for you, but also for the other person.  They are not looking forward to the experience either.

Mediation can be a very positive experience and it can change relationships for the better.  That doesn’t mean that you are going to repair the relationship.  That will sometimes happen, but more often, you can bring closure or a new direction to the relationship.  That may be a scary thought, but think of it this way, whatever the relationship is right now, if all it involves in not being on speaking terms, or escalating arguments, it is not working the way it is.  Putting an end to the conflict and changing the relationship going forward, can put you on a more positive path, even if that means you walk your path, and they walk a different path.

You can make mediation a positive experience for you, by approaching it in a positive way.  Don’t assume the worst.  Go about it with no preconceived notions.  If you come out without an agreement, you are no worse off than you were before, but remember, you may come out ahead.

Mediation is a confidential process so you can speak openly and not fear any ramifications in court later.  As a matter of fact, if the issue is taken into court, and the other party tries to tell the judge that you said, “X, Y or Z” in mediation, the judge will stop any further discussion of what was said in mediation.  Go into mediation and say what you need to say.  That alone can be quite healing for people.

Some other ways to ensure that mediation is a positive experience for you are to:

1. Make sure you are well rested.

2. Make sure that you will not be hungry.  If you schedule around lunch or dinner time, eat before the session if you can.  If not, bring a snack.  Feel free to take a break if you need to.  Mediators will usually do their best to make sure their clients basic needs are met.

3. Come prepared with your idea for resolution.  Do not think in terms of what you think the other party may or may not agree to.  You may come out very surprised.  It happens more often than not.  Ask for what you need, but also be prepared to compromise.

4. Consider what the other party is asking for.  If you need a moment to think about it, be sure to let the mediator know that.  You do not have to agree to something that you do not want to do, but sometimes a knee jerk reaction is to say no, when the reality is, it may be a workable solution.

5. Think about your life going forward, not about the past. Even if the relationship was bad, it may improve when you can agree to move forward after coming to some resolution of the issues that have you entrenched in battle.

6. Don’t think of it in terms of all or nothing.  Partial agreements can be very helpful, too.  You may be able to resolve some of your issues and that is a step in the right direction.  You would be surprised how often an agreement on a small issue starts the ball rolling on bigger issues.  Sometimes, people return to mediation after coming out of a first session with a partial agreement.  After having some time to reflect on a prior session, people realize that they can return to mediation and work out the rest of the agreement.

7. Keep your discussion positive and use I statements. Try not to place blame. How you got to where you are doesn’t have to interfere with a plan that moves you forward.

8. Consider mediation a new beginning.  Even when you do not find resolution, the conversation can help you clarify where the relationship is at.  You no longer have to wonder if you will or will not be able to have a productive conversation.  Let the experience shape how you will go forward with or without the other party.  Sometimes relationships do have to end, but it opens our lives up for new relationships going forward.  We can take what we have learned to make better choices in the future.

Mediation offers the opportunity to redefine relationships.  It also offers an opportunity to be creative when resolving conflict.  When you stay positive and are open to the possibility of what may happen, your experience will serve you well, even if you are not able to come into an agreement.

If you enter into a mediation session with a positive attitude, it will often spill over to the other side of the table.  You can have a positive, productive mediation, provided you go in with a positive attitude and are willing to sit down for an open discussion.  You may not get everything that you hope to, but in most cases you can both come out winners.

Ready to tear up?

If this video doesn’t make you tear up, you cannot possibly be human! I love dogs and I love to see videos like this. It is hard to surrender a dog, but there are times in life where you just cannot care for them. If you have a pet that you cannot care for, please call your local humane society for help. Never leave your pet abandoned and alone.

Proverbs 12:10
“Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.” (ESV)

Do You Recommend Your Parenting Consultant or PTE?


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 Coordinator and Consultant Survival Guide”

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 my website.  Many clients tell me they want me to offer those services because I “get it”, but if I am their coach, I cannot be their PC.  I think parents greatly benefit more from coaching than PC work.  So keep that in mind.  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 support person 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 of the role.

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:

www.mnparent.org

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!

UPDATE 2019: Unfortunately, mnparent.org is no longer operational.  The parent who ran that site no longer deals with family court because his child is grown.  If I find another or if you one of you decides to start a review site, please comment and I will update this post with the information.

One caution on review sites: If you do not understand the role of a parenting consultant (or parent coordinator, as they are called in other states), you may be creating a hellish situation for yourself or having unrealistic expectations.  No PC is a miracle worker.  We cannot change people, especially those coming to the process in bad faith.  The role is not an easy one, but it can help parents who understand the purpose and power of a parenting consultant (or coordinator).  Remember, help is available for that.  You can contact me or the good folks at High Conflict Central.

You Cannot Know What You Cannot Know


Image courtesy of pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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:

http://www.drjan.com/

http://acainnerpeace.ncf.ca/charac.htm

http://www.houstonadultchildren.com/

http://psychcentral.com/lib/tips-on-setting-boundaries-in-enmeshed-relationships/00017840

There are many more.  Do your own research. 

Here are a few boo
ks that I highly recommend:

http://www.amazon.com/Intimacy-Struggle-Revised-Expanded-Adults/dp/1558742778/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424912&sr=1-2&keywords=the+struggle+for+intimacy

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-ACOA-Sourcebook-Children-Alcoholics/dp/1558749608/ref=la_B000APW2GK_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424937&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Childs-Guide-Whats-Normal/dp/1558740902
/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424276&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Children-Secrets-Dysfunctional-Families/dp/0932194532/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392424988&sr=1-1&keywords=adult+children+the+secrets+of+dysfunctional+families

http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-Where-You-End-Begin/dp/1568380305/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392425197&sr=1-9&keywords=boundaries

http://www.amazon.com/When-Past-Present-Emotional-Relationships/dp/159030571X/ref=sr_1_35?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392425469&sr=1-35&keywords=healthy+boundaries+in+relationships

On the Move


Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 susan@lifesdoorsmediation.com