Counselors and therapists working with children and their parents are often confronted with the difficulties for a child of living in two households. It becomes increasingly difficult for the child when the parents do not, or barely communicate, and when miscommunication between parents build up. As I mentioned in the last post, a common effect of this is that parents perceive that the child is lying. However, this 'lying' is an effect of the parents not communicating, and the child wanting to protect both parents, and wanting to please each parent. This 'lying' can add to the conflict between the parents, who think that the other parent is instigating the child to lie, leading to an increase in alienation between the families, and complicating the position of the child.
The practice of shared parenting has been recognized by the research community and by legal and mental health practitioners as the preferred parenting arrangement after divorce, and being optimal to child development. It is recognized that shared parenting is the most effective means for reducing high parental conflict. Of course this applies to situations where there is no substantiated family violence or child abuse.
However, in my experience there is a lack in services to help families to support in their shared physical custody. It often is just 'shared' with respect to the 'time,' and the 'sharing' at other levels seems to be left to the child (hence the tendency to 'lie'). For this collaborative parenting to be successful, there needs to be an accessible number of family relationship centers that offer family mediation and other relevant support services outside of the court system. In this county it seems that mediation is immediately linked to the 'court.' There is a need for governments to help establish such networks. To help parents create an environment for their child where 'shared' parenting is not just a 'time share.' Because when it is only a time share, without any further communication between the parents, the divide between the parents can get so big, that it is as if a wall is constructed within the child. The child lives in one world when living with one parent, and in another world when living with the other parent. It is as if the child is not allowed to have 'shared parents.' Each parent thinks he is the only parent for the child, and acts as if the other one is not there. The effects for the child can be devastating even when 'on paper' there is 'shared custody.'
To schedule an appointment call An Bulkens at (530) 321-2970