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Would you Welcome 2 Bosses?

Posted Jul 17 2008 2:52pm

How would any of us feel about reporting to 2 bosses? It is an arduous and highly stressful proposition. Pleasing one authority figure is challenge enough, but pleasing 2?

In an 2008 episode of Men in Trees, Marin, the relationship coach, begins her radio show with a question to listeners, "In the dance of life, can there be 2 equal partners or does someone always need to take the lead?"

It is a compelling question to consider--literally and figuratively. Certainly, if, on the dance floor, both partners take the lead, there will be sore feet and bruised egos. It is a much smoother and more enjoyable event when the couple is in sync. To get there, there must be agreement between two as to who will lead and who will follow. Maybe they take terms in the lead, or maybe they call out movements and directions. Regardless, someone takes the lead, and the other follows. Someone calls the shots, and the other concurs.

How is it that parenting through a High Conflict divorce couldn't reach the dance floor. Both parents want to set the agenda, make the rules, call the shots. And, what of children?

Oh, the common response is, 'they're resilient'. My response is "phooey". Passing the children off as resilient is a cop-out; a poor excuse for selfish adults. Resilience simply means that the children will get by. Sure, what choice do they have but to survive?

Is that the best we can offer them--to get by? I get steamed by this laissez-faire approach. AFter all, our children didn't ask to come intyo this world. They don't get a say in who their parents are or if their aprents iwll be any good, or even together. Yet, when couples divorce, it is the children who are left with the short straw most of the time. The parents can fight for money, parenting time, assets. Kids get whatever is thrown their way. How we treat children of divorce is shameful.

It seems to me that we owe our children a better dance. It is unreasonable to expect chicken to bounce back and forth between parents like human Ping Pong balls. They have feelings. They are deeply affected by the uprooting, the insecurity, the changes, the loss. We can expect that they desperately want to be loved by each parent. So how can it be good for children to have to live by two conflicting set of rules, or no rules at all, especially when many children begin in a household where 1 set of rules usually prevails only to be faced with a new set of circumstances, and no guide book, or answers to the issues this new predicament presents.

Has anyone considered the emotional pain and turmoil exacted when children try to follow 2 bosses, 2 different sets of rules? Can anyone really please 2 bosses, and do it well? I can't imagine. And, I for one readily admit that having 1 boss is plenty, thanks.

Our children of high conflict divorce deserve better. At the very least, they should have a Guardian ad lidum, or a therapist, whose sole job is to see that the needs of the children are met. I further propose that any parenting schedule be piloted for 6 months, and reevaluated by the children's advocate to assess if any changes are needed. There after, periodic checks should be required until the children reach 14 years old.

Today's NYT carries a story of Theresa A. Mari, an attorney who devote 65% of her practice to just this kind of work, representing children in the court when custody or parenting time is disputed. A member of the Law Guardian Panel for Suffolk County in NY, she is appointed as legal advocate by the judge. New Jersey children deserve the same protection in high conflict divorces.

"Sometimes the parents are so caught up in their own issues that the voice of the children gets lost. I just think it’s important for the kids to have a voice. And I think it’s the right of the children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents whenever possible,” says

In this way, the children's needs will be considered over the convenience, control and/or monetary games that tend to dictate current parenting schedules. Schedules that are set in stone and left static despite the natural developmental changes and evolving experiences that affect children as they age. The court makes a decision, and then drops out of the picture. Divorce is fluid, just as life is fluid. The court must recognize the realities of life if we are to serve our children in a manner fitting the next generation. A system that acknowledges the changing needs over time would help our children grow up whole and more happy. Otherwise, they are left to repeat the patterns they have been taught.

Is that really what we want?
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