TAG | co-parenting

I am always very cautious my blog posts details are vague enough so clients do not recognize themselves or feel their privacy has been violated or a trust broken.

I met with these clients over a year ago and I will not identify the parents as either Mom or Dad, simply as parents. I also will refer to the child as X only.

They had been married almost twenty years and found themselves contemplating divorce. They were still living together and co-parenting their three children. Over the years they had drifted along in their marriage, busy with family demands and work demands. That happens frankly in most marriages with kids. They have not had enough time to focus on their relationship but that does not mean divorce is the best solution in most situations.

I was not picking up a clear sense of their specific relationship challenges and they were very businesslike in all their discussions and exchanges. Separating property and assets was easily worked through with an accountant’s precision.

As I asked about their children I was met with a stony silence. Finally one said simply “We do not agree”. Not agree on custody? Child support?
I asked what did they specifically not agree on. “X claims they are transgender”. The other parent shot back “X is transgender, X is not just claiming it”. It did not improve from there.

The exchange continued with allegations of propping up teenage “fads”, being too close-minded, caring too much what other people think and on and on. They never mentioned their two other children.

Once they had burned off that energy I asked them about their marriage. When had is stopped being supportive and positive? They both looked at each other and gave the same answer. “When X announced they were transgender it soon felt as everything shifted and morphed because we see the issue so differently. It is one thing to have a discussion in general about an issue but an entirely different experience when it is your own child”. Both parents were now crying.

We took a short break and when we all sat down again I asked them if possibly their marriage was not the challenge but rather X’s transgender status and how to parent such an issue, especially when they had very different responses and belief systems.

I suggested they try meeting with a marriage and family therapist before they continued with the divorce. I told them they were always welcome to return to mediation and I would be glad to continue working with them if that was their final decision. I never have heard back from them in over a year.

Parenting is so hard. I have seen couples come almost to blows over whether their child should play traveling hockey, I cannot image trying to parent a delicate and major decision when the parents are so divided. Clearly both parents wanted the best for X, they just had very different ideas of what “best” was.

Sheila-Marie Untiedt
Rule 114 Qualified Mediator
Parenting Consultant PC
Early Neutral Evaluator ENE
Clean Slate Mediation.net

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Scenes from the orthodontist’s office

I was waiting at the orthodontist’s office during my child’s appointment. I was seated next to the office door of the financial administer which was closed and I could only hear muffled conversation.

Someone opened the front door which caused the financial administrator’s door to pop open slightly. She did not realize the door had opened or she certainly would have closed it. Honestly, I should have closed it myself and in hindsight I would have. I was so saddened by what I heard.

I entered the conversation right after the phone rang;

“Yes, X has an appointment today at 2:30.”

“No, the bill has not been paid.”

“Yes, I understand this bill is your ex-husband’s responsibility.”

“Yes, I have made many attempts to contact him regarding the balance.”

“Yes, I understand it is not your responsibility.”

“No, I will not try to collect from you.”

“No, I do not know when he intends to pay the balance.”

“What? You want me to instruct the front desk to turn X away?”

“No, I would never refuse scheduled treatments to X.”

“Why not? X needs to have the braces adjusted in a progression. We would never delay or refuse treatment.”

“Well, I am sorry you feel that way.”

“Hello? Hello?”

The administrator was compassionate and caring. She was the lone voice of reason. Poor X, what must her interactions be like when her parents really need to cooperate and support her? I cannot imagine.

Sheila-Marie Untiedt

Rule 114 Qualified Mediator, Parenting Consultant PC and Early Neutral Elevator ENE

Clean Slate Mediation.net



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A Scene From the Recital Hall-

I recently attended a recital on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.  Let’s be honest, other than the recital student you attend to hear perform their recital piece, your mind begins to wander, at least mine does. I was seated to the back of the recital space which gave me a great view of the other guests. I often find myself attempting to puzzle together who these people belong with and a little about them and their stories and their relationships. Occupational hazard I guess.

Seated directly in front of me was a couple with their 10-year old son. The wife was sitting next to the boy and had her right arm around the boy’s shoulders. After a minute or two a gentlemen sitting on the other side of the boy reached out his left arm and draped it across the boy’s shoulders also. The woman turned her head and hesitated and began to remove her arm. The man whispered “I am sorry” and removed his arm.

The woman’s husband leaned over and whispered “Is everything ok?” and she quickly responded “Oh yes, just fine.”

I quickly realized the boy’s mother and father were seated on either side of him and his step-parents were seated next to each of his parents. The recital just got a bit more interesting.

After the recital during the obligatory juice and cookie reception I could not help but watch this family interact. The boy’s parents were talking with each other and with their son, the stepparents were standing to the side waiting quietly. The boy’s stepmother took numerous photos of the boy and his parents, then the boy and his Mom and step-father and handed her camera to the boy’s mother who took photos of the boy with his Dad and stepmother.

These four adults were stunning examples of successful co-parenting. They all put the boy first and behaved with grace and elegance. The boy clearly felt loved and supported at his recital, which is the point after all.

Sheila-Marie Untiedt



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