Split Parents Learn Both Are Often Right
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
Problems are the one thing that divorced parents have an abundance of. The most important part of that word in divorce cases is the "s". Divorced parents have lots and lots of problems.
too little time with the children,
stress caused by the demands of single-parenting,
children whose school performance goes awry or who begin to
exhibit emotional troubles,
complications caused by second marriages. . .
The list never stops.
That fact seems to surprise most divorced individuals. Each tends to believe that there is only one-right-answer to any given problem. Most often each believes his or her proposed solution is the one-right-answer.
The notion that there is one-right-answer stems in large part from the way our educational process works. We are taught arithmetic and for each problem there is one right answer. We are given multiple choice tests and for each question there is one right answer. We then try to apply that approach to other aspects of our lives.
However, for social and human problems, there is virtually never one-right-answer. Rather, there are numerous answers, some of which work better sometimes but not at other times; some of which work fine for one family but don't work at all for another.
One of the greatest sources of divorce and post-divorce litigation is the conviction of each party that he or she is right and the other party is wrong. The most common attitude when people start to negotiate is, "Be reasonable. Do it my way!"
One way to stop, or at least reduce, the fighting for divorced individuals is for them to stop expecting there to be one-right-answer-- to brain-storm solutions to each problem. They will usually be able to think up at least two solutions--his and hers, but they should be pushed to come up with a minimum of four solutions to each problem. The next step is to analyze each of the proposed solutions--to list the pros and cons of each.
Finally, a solution needs to be selected--a decision needs to be made. Sometimes it will be obvious that one proposed solution is better than the others, but often not. When there is no clear "one-right-answer," it doesn't matter much "what" the decision is. It just matters that "a" decision is made, even by flipping a coin.
One of the main benefits of this process is that people can begin to see things from another perspective. Also, it is much easier for anyone to hear, "You're right in what you want, but you can't have what you want," than it is to hear, "You can't have what you want because you're wrong"
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