Collaborative Divorce and Mediation:
Learning to Let Go
Building Block #5 ~ Choice/Autonomy
One of the greatest challenges in divorce is learning to let go and letting the other parent make decisions that affect your children’s lives without being involved in those decision. Yet, letting go and giving the other parent the opportunity to make decisions without your involvement is critical to creating a healthy post-divorce relationship with your former spouse or partner.
To help you and your former spouse navigate decision-making with as much ease as possible I have a few suggestions that have proven helpful.
1. Determine which issues you absolutely want to decide together. This usually includes things such as educational decisions, non-emergency health care decisions, etc.
2. Determine which issues you want to talk about together but each of you decides independently when the children are with you. This may include things such as whether a child stays home from school.
3. Determine which issues you each decide and don’t need to talk with each other about. This may include things such as which foods your children eat or when your children go to bed.
4. If it really doesn’t matter to you, let it go. If one parent really cares about something, such as health care providers, and the other parent really does not care, don’t fight about it. Choose your battles wisely.
5. Ask yourself, why am I fighting about this; what is so important to me about this? Be honest with yourself. Are you fighting because you are angry about something else with your former? If so, talk about that.
6. Grieve. Letting go of decisions that affect your children’s lives is extremely difficult at anytime in a child’s life. Allow yourself to really grieve and mourn this loss. You yearn to play a meaningful role in your child’s life and to be involved in decisions from the mundane to the ones that really matter. And in divorce, you lose some of this influence and power, often when a child is very young. Be gentle with yourself AND with your former spouse. This is not easy.
In service and support ~
Cat J. Zavis is an Attorney, Mediator and Coach for Parents co-parenting their children after divorce. As a divorced mother of 2, she deeply understands the challenges, trauma and opportunities divorce provides. She has been practicing Nonviolent CommunicationSM, Mediation and Collaborative Law for 7 years. She conducts workshops and trainings in Nonviolent CommunicationSM for parents, lawyers, teachers, students, spiritual centers and professionals. In 2009, she was awarded a Peace Builder Award for her business. Her combination of personal experience and professional expertise give Cat a unique perspective and ability to help co parents learn to communicate effectively and powerfully to transform their relationships and interactions with their former after divorce so they and their children can thrive.