Helping children cope with the break-up of the family unit is a core issue of the twenty-first century. Separation and divorce generally have a detrimental impact on children. This is exacerbated where children are exposed to domestic violence. It is also exacerbated in the face of heightened parental acrimony. The advantages of a child-focused Mediation process is, in such instances manifold. Given the serious emotional effects of divorce, the advantages of mediation for a child can not be overlooked – even where the benefits may be minimal.
Why Do Children Need Help Coping
A sad reality of our current divorce scenario is that contested divorces can take between twenty-four to thirty-six months to come to trial. The impact of this long wait, is not only that finances will, in the process, be significantly depleted but emotions between parents frayed to the point of extreme dislike. For the child caught in the middle of the family conflict, the waiting period for trial is known to increase anxiety, annihilate identity, and destroy confidence in self, self-worth and the world at large. A child’s recovery from divorce can in such instances last a lifetime.
Benefits of Mediation
Despite what many professionals may say, mediation is not a cure-all for every family conflict and woe. It is however an alternative that should not be disregarded at first instance. Especially when one considers the full impact of contested litigation on a child.
Mediation in the family realm has as its primary focus the interests of the child. Parents are encouraged to recognize and accept that whilst a divorce may terminate their personal relationship with one another, they remain the child’s parents. As such the parents would be encouraged to work together for the sake of the ongoing psychological well-being of the child. The mediators role herein would be to assist the parents in airing issues of concern viz their co-parenting of their child. The mediator would help the parents to put forward and consider creative parenting solutions which they believe would contribute towards the future welfare and happiness of their child.
Developing Optimal Co-Parenting Strategies
In countries where family mediation is an accepted process, research has shown that whilst mediation may not be appropriate for every family dispute, in those cases where it is utilised, there is greater potential for the development of optimal co-operation and co-parenting relationships.Additionally, research shows that agreements reached through mediation are more likely to be adhered to by the parents, due to the fact that parents, have control over the process, and are often better able to develop custom-made outcomes to meet their and their child’s unique needs and requirements.
The current opinion on this issue is that the children most likely to cope post-divorce are the ones whose parents have been able to move past their own acrimony of the divorce and work together for the sake of the children.
Mediation’s Advantage for Children
The advantages of mediation for children who have been, or perhaps in the future will be exposed to the acrimonious breakdown of their parents’ relationship, are far too profound and extensive, for family mediation not to be the process of first choice when break-down happens.