Children are at the center of divorce mediation.
Like many separating and divorcing parents, you may struggle with the feeling that you’ve let your children down. Maybe you’re noticing or anticipating your child’s sadness or upset, and deeply wishing things were different. In this context, it’s reassuring to take note of a key research finding:
Most children are resilient and land on their feet emotionally, even in the context of their parents’ separation and divorce.
As Robert Emery, Ph.D., a leading researcher on children and divorce, has said, it’s important “to distinguish between pain and pathology.” By this he means that while children feel sad about separation and divorce, that doesn’t mean that they are suffering long-term developmental harm from it. To the contrary, most children are not at risk for long-term harm. However, there’s a second key research finding:
Exposure to conflict between parents is harmful to the emotional development of children.
That’s where mediation can play such a key role in protecting children from harm. Mediation provides a setting in which the people who know and care the most about the children – you, their parents – decide what’s best for the children, rather than turning over these decisions to a judge who doesn’t know the family. Mediation encourages cooperation rather than confrontation, and supports parents in making the transition from a marriage that has become unworkable to a co-parenting relationship that can work quite well.
Professor Emery conducted a 12-year study on the effects of divorce mediation on children and parents. His findings dramatically document the beneficial impact of mediation and are detailed in his book, The Truth About Children and Divorce, which is available in our office lending library.
We take time to learn about your children at the very beginning of the mediation. We also ask you to consider bringing a photo of your children to the orientation session. We’ll have the children’s photo out during subsequent meetings to symbolize that their needs will be at the center of the decisions made in mediation. We also encourage you to use our lending library to deepen your understanding of the needs of children during divorce.