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Is This How You Want Your Children to Remember You?

May 10, 2016  | 

{3:24 minutes to read} I attended a mediation workshop that focused on the various ways that a mediator can address an impasse in mediation, and help clients get beyond it.

Of the many tools, one that struck me profoundly was asking the clients how they think this would make them look in the eyes of their children. Not necessarily now, but when they are adults and may have a keener awareness of what happened in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce.

Manipulative? Some may consider it to be manipulative on the part of the mediator, but it goes to the very reason why most clients choose to mediate—they want an agreement that is in the best interest of their children. It also speaks directly to the part of us that wants others, especially our children, to see us in the best possible light.
What would the children feel as adults, if they came to understand that during the divorce:

  • Mom deliberately made it difficult for dad to see them;
  • Dad refused to pay adequate support for mom, resulting in her living at a much lower standard of living than him;
  • One insisted upon an allocation of assets that, while within the law, left the other to be much worse off in retirement;
  • One consistently spoke ill of the other, or permitted other people to speak ill of the other parent, in the presence of the children. 

It is never recommended that parents share the details of their separation agreement with their children, but separating couples would do well to recognize that there are things that children can see for themselves when they are older. When they look back and see examples like these, they are better able to understand exactly what happened during, and as a result of their parent’s divorce, and it can lead to disappointment.

In the midst of a difficult divorce, there are so many competing emotions that objectivity can be elusive. If a party is litigating, that lack of objectivity can become a motivating factor. That emotion may then be supported by their attorney, whose job is to advocate for the best deal for her client and become even more entrenched.

Fortunately, in mediation, clients can see the other side, even if they may not agree with it. They can be reminded of the bigger picture and what is truly at stake. They can make an agreement that would leave their children with the impression that they did right by the other parent.

The legacy of a divorce on children can be painful enough. Parents don’t need to add to that by making their children feel sad because one treated the other badly.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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