Mediating your divorce or custody case not only benefits you emotionally and financially today, it creates a better future for you and your children. A twelve-year study conducted by Dr. Robert E. Emory and published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, followed families who mediated and families who didn’t. It found that nonresidential parents who mediated had more in-person contact with their kids in the long run and more telephone contact. 28% of nonresidential parents who mediated had weekly contact with their kids twelve years after the divorce, compared to only 9% of parents who went to court.
Mediation seems to make noncustodial parents better parents—or at least helps the custodial parents think they are. The custodial parents in the study rated the noncustodial parents significantly higher in every parenting area, including discipline, religious and moral training, discussing problems, and handling significant events in the child’s life. Not only did the nonresidential parents have better relationships with their kids, but they were viewed as better parents by their co-parenting partners than parents who did not mediate.
Mediators know that the mediation process helps parents develop better problem solving skills, it teaches them how to work through conflict, and it helps parents realize that the children’s needs are really the most important thing. Mediation, in essence, is life skills training because it helps parents learn how to think about their family, their relationship with each other, and their own behavior as they move forward to create new post-divorce lives.
If you’re mediating your divorce or custody situation, take advantage of the mediation process as you begin to think through how you’d like to reframe your parenting relationship as well as your new relationship with your former partner. You may want to ask yourselves these questions:
- How do I want the other parent to think about me in the coming years?
- How involved do I want to be in my child’s life?
- What level of involvement by the other parent would benefit our child?
- How do I want the other parent to treat me in the coming years? How can I treat him/her so that we both live up to that standard?
- What rules can we set up for ourselves that will encourage cooperative parenting?
Mediation will help you resolve your issues and reframe your parenting relationship in a way that will allow you to stay actively involved in your child’s life, and co-parent together in a way that is healthy and productive for everyone involved.