I couldn’t avoid it. I kept running into clients I’ve worked with over the years at the county fair this week. But instead of sitting in my office talking about their kids, I watched as they took their eager offspring on roller-coasters and Ferris wheels, bought them corn dogs and elephant ears, and shepherded them through the baby animal barn and craft building.
I smiled the entire day. The hard work these parents did in their collaborative or mediation sessions, grappling with what was fair for them and their now former spouses, apparently paid off. I saw happy, carefree kids. Their parents are the ones who understood that to create a parenting plan honored by both parents means each of their needs were accounted for in some measure.
That level of cooperation never flows from a “win-lose” parenting arrangement. The disgruntled parent will naturally seek to win every small battle as the war wages on long after the divorce is final.
But not so for the dad who cheered his son on in the frozen t-shirt contest. I remember how carefully he listened during a collaborative session as his wife, through tears, spoke about how hard it was to be apart from their kids.
And not so for the mom who admired her daughter’s entry in the craft building. I remember how angry she was in a mediation session about something her husband said to their daughter during the divorce. Both of these parents remained committed to listening and seeking a result that would feel “fair” to everyone—self, spouse, and kids. They did it, and now they were just enjoying the “fair”!
I couldn’t avoid running into so many of these families this week at the fair. And that’s quite all right.