When the program may be necessary
There are several kinds of situations which we may find ourselves in which suggest that the conflicts in the relationship are of such intensity that getting help may be necessary.
When abuse is alleged or adjudicated
Parenting can be very stressful. When we are stressed out we are more than usually likely to do things we regret, even things which may be harmful to our kids. From the perspective on abuse that we use at the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution, we all from time to time do things which are abusive to others. But sometimes that abuse is so harmful that it is criminal. When this happens we want to be especially certain that all of the factors which led to the abusive choice have been identified and addressed and we can be as confident as we can be that nothing like that will ever happen again.
Dr. Robinson has had many years of experience working with criminal abuse offenders. They and the other parent both want the highest confidence that prior choices to abuse will not be repeated.
When agreements are not kept - decree violations
Being able to make, keep, and repair agreements is an essential skill for just and healthy relationships. This is especially important when we have teenage children as they are at a stage of development where they can begin to learn this important life skill.
When parents are not able to do this with their children, the children suffer. One of the best ways to teach our kids how to do this is to model it with each other as their parents. When parents cannot do this with each other, not only does the parents' relationship suffer; the opportunity to teach their children is lost.
It is not surprising that we make what we think are agreements and then discover we weren't on the same page. This happens all the time, even in the best of relationships. But some relationships are so tenuous that even a written document with the authority of the court behind it is not enough to establish a durable agreement. When this happens the parenting relationship is deeply harmed and the children suffer.
When children are hurting
Divorce hurts kids. All kids want their parents to be together and to live in harmony. Unfortunately we are not always able to do that for our children. Sometimes being separated is actually better for the children even if they don't see it that way.
But sometimes the alienation between the parents, even when they are living separately, is so intense that the children are further harmed. This can show up in many kinds of ways in the kids. They can suffer from depression or other emotional disorders. They can act the feelings out and have behavioral problems. In severe cases they can even experience physical symptoms from the stresses of having their parents fight all the time.
Even when we get our kids the best professional help, this may not be sufficient to heal our children. The problem is not the kids. The problem is our inability to get along with each other as parents. "Helping the children" only places the responsibility on them when it was ours all along.
When parents want to do the best for their children
Very few people are really good at naming, addressing, and resolving conflicts. We all have some ability to do this, but not many of us would consider ourselves to be masters at conflict resolution. Indeed, the fact that we got into a relationship, chose to have children together, and then found we couldn't maintain the relationship is an indication that we are not as self-aware and creative as we would hope to be.
We have never done all we can do for our kids. This is just the nature of being a parent. It is a never-ending job. But how we are able to construct a durable and safe relationship with the other parent is so important that we have to know we are doing all we can do for them.
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