Monday, December 21, 2009

Collaborative and Cooperative Engagement

The alternatives to power struggles: collaborative and cooperative engagement.

In collaborative engagement differing opinions lead to creative solutions.
Collaboration occurs when winning gets redefined as "getting it right" instead of “proving that I’m right." Here, the positive feedback loop naturally reinforces itself because, when successfully collaborating, both parties acknowledge differences and consciously avoid criticizing each other. This opens up the door for co-parenting that’s usually more effective and feels good. The trickle down effect on the children can be profound, because when they sense that their parents are a good parenting team together, there is less ambiguity and anxiety, which in turn permits them to live their childhood as it needs to be lived – unburdened by the divorce.

In Cooperative engagement disagreements are softened by a wish to work together coupled with clear and healthy boundaries. Before the parents can work together, they need to establish clear boundaries. Cooperative parenting is not as warm as collaborative parenting, but it still creates a positive feedback loop.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The vast majority of kidnappings in the United States are a result of disagreeing parties in a divorce. A high percentage of abuse in America occurs between couples that are divorcing.


Divorce causes people to regress. It brings out the worst in people. They do things that they would never do under normal circumstances. Some people engage in irrational behavior that causes terrible damage. Children suffer when their parents engage in an aggressive legal battle or when a parent tries to turn the children against their spouse.
When one parent behaves in a hurtful way, the other parent seeks to retaliate. Then the first parent responds with additional abuse and the other parent feels the need to respond in kind. This creates a negative feedback loop that can go on for years in a malignant self sustaining way that brings nothing but misery for everybody in the family.

It only takes one parent, who decides to stop reacting to negative behavior, to break the negative feedback loop.

It's worth it. It's worth swallowing your pride and giving up your indignation for the sake of your children' well being.

Monday, October 26, 2009

If you are worried about your children as you deal with your divorce, then this blog will be of interest to you.

I am a child psychiatrist and serve as an expert witness in custody matters. Ten years ago, I created a workshop for couples who are going through divorce. The workshop's focus was the well fare of the children during and after the divorce.
My experience with that course as well as the extensive work I've done with couples who are divorcing and with their children, has led me to write a book. The book, The Intelligent Divorce, is based on the principles of the Divorce Course.
I use this blog to share some of the basics that make up an Intelligent Divorce.

One of the major issues in divorce is power struggles in which the couple engage.
Power Struggles play a critical role in all intimate relationships. After all, who always agrees with their friend or partner on everything? We’re just not built that way. A power struggle occurs when two people have different opinions and each feels the need to win—sometimes at all costs.
It’s not necessarily a question of either party seeking “power” as we might traditionally define it. Sometimes, it’s simply each parent wanting to be heard and respected and trusted. Or, it is one parent trying to maintain control of a situation, either out of anxiety or fear or any number of reasons.
Whether married or divorced, most parents have natural differences in how they approach raising their children and this can cause anxiety. Each parent comes to parenting from their own family of origin with its own rules for raising kids. When parents disagree, it can raise worries because it may not “feel” right. Some parents come from a background that is more organized or regimented. Some come from families that are looser and less structured. Some rely of punishment, while others rely on natural consequences like poor grades. Still others come from families in which discipline was as simple as a cross word – and anything more was experienced as heavy handed. Differences in parenting styles can lead to anxiety which then, in turn, leads to a wish for control. This is how power struggles sneak into efforts to parent effectively. It’s the response to this anxiety, and how they engage each other, which dictates how well a couple can co-parent.

To learn more, visit .