Divorce, Co Parenting and Collaboration: The Building Blocks

I believe there are 5 essential qualities (or building blocks) that need to be present to successfully navigate conflict and disagreements.  Without these five qualities, it is extremely difficult to let down one’s defenses in a conflict, see your common goals and work together to tackle the problem.

Building Block #1 ~ CONNECTION

Connection is so difficult to achieve, especially when we are in conflict or disagreement with someone else.

When I talk about connection, I am referring to a sense of emotional connection – an ability to relate to one another from our heart.  It is important to create quality of connection because connection builds a sense of trust and safety.

This quality of connection is often shattered in and through divorce, yet it is critical to rebuild if you are to have a successful co-parenting relationship.  Not to mention that learning how to rebuild connection after it is broken in any relationship is a great life skill that you will carry on to future relationships.

There are many ways to rebuild connection when it is broken.  It is important to focus on both creating a connection in the moment AND rebuilding connection over time. 

Here are 5 things you can to do create connection in the moment and to rebuild it over time.

1.  Be honest in your conversations and actions.

2.  Begin conversations by focusing on people and experiences that are important to both of you (e.g., your children, memories, things you both enjoy).

3.  Take responsibility for your part in your interactions (both recent and past).

4.  Really listen – not to the words that are being spoken but the meaning behind the words.

5.  Ask the other person what they need to have a sense of connection and trust.

When connection and trust are broken, it takes time to rebuild it.  You build a house from the bottom up – beginning with the foundation.  To help rebuild connection with your former (or anyone else), you also need to start at the very foundation.

Ask yourself what YOU can do to begin to contribute to the building blocks of  a healthy post-divorce relationship.

In service ~

Cat J. Zavis is an Attorney, Mediator and Coach for Divorced and Divorcing Parents.  As a divorced mother of 2, she deeply understands the challenges, trauma and opportunities divorce provides. She has been practicing Nonviolent Communication, Mediation and Collaborative Law for 7 years. She has conducted workshops and trainings in Nonviolent Communication for hundreds of parents, lawyers, teachers, students, spiritual centers and professionals. In 2009, she was awarded a Peace Builder Award for her business. She has taught at universities in Western Washington on diverse topics such as Women and the Law, Constitutional Law, and Communication. Her combination of personal experience and professional expertise give Cat a unique perspective and ability to help clients learn to communicate effectively and powerfully to transform their relationships and interactions with their former partner or spouse so they and their children can thrive.


building blocks photo by renjith krishnan


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