Apr 18

Knowledge Is Power

Have you ever made the “right” decision only to realize after gaining more information, it may not have been?   As we grow and change, our knowledge base expands and so does our life perspective.  In working with families who are encountering divorce, educating them on their options may offer an unknown opportunity for healing.

Years ago, I met with a couple that had been utilizing the court system to resolve their dispute for nearly three years.  Rosanna and Ivan came into my office looking for guidance in order to make decisions around the custody of their children.  After approximately 4 mediation meetings, they came to an agreement on how their children would share time with them.  They created a plan that met the unique needs of their family and expressed gratitude in feeling heard.

Previously, most communications between Rosanna and Ivan had reportedly occurred through their attorneys.  They had attended several court proceedings in an attempt to reach an agreement prior to meeting me.  At times, months had gone by without any communication between the two of them.  They felt depleted and had not had the support to really hear what mattered most to each of them.

In our time together, I educated them on how to navigate their family transition as well as minimize the impact on their children.  They were equipped with tools on how to communicate effectively through an emotional time.  This supported their ability to feel heard and they were then able to weave their different perspectives into joint decisions.  Lastly, they were empowered to move forward as a redesigned family.

Their ability to move forward and out of limbo provided fertile ground for healing to begin for this family.  They were not riddled with anxiety waiting for another court document to arrive in the mail.  The pain they were feeling and space of fear they were operating from could be molded and worked with in a way they needed but had not yet experienced.

This is one of many family circumstances I have come across in my years of doing conflict resolution work.  All to often I have heard, “Why did we not realize this service was available for our family”?  I value the opportunity to share what I have learned with parties at such a vulnerable time.  Most families are enlightened when I explain the creative options available to help support their family during a difficult and unknown time.

Just as you would gather facts or perhaps get a second opinion for your own physical health or that of your child’s, you should also understand all that is involved in making decisions relative to a divorce process.  Educating yourself on the various methods available can make a difference in the outcome for your family.  Increasing your awareness on the array of services offered, as well as understanding how they can be tailored to the particular needs of your family will afford you the peace of mind that you have made an informed decision.

Colleagues and myself discussed how we could assist our community in making informed decisions relative to divorce and separation.   As such, we have created a community education program entitled, Families In Transition.  This one-hour workshop will be available to the public beginning February 27th and will continue to be offered every few months throughout 2018.  There is no cost to attend.

The content will focus on options available for families considering separation or divorce.   We will provide resources and discuss the pros and cons of the various processes.  Legal and non-legal aspects that arise during a separation or divorce will also be covered.  Additional information can be found on cpnwpa.org and registration can be done via the website.

As mentioned in my last article, reflecting can be beneficial in making decisions moving forward.  Self-compassion can help us heal in the decisions we have already made.  Gathering as much information as possible prior to making life decisions can be of great benefit.   Be proactive in meeting the needs of your family if you find yourself in a situation where you are considering separation or divorce.

Melissa Sulkowski is a trained Family Mediator and Divorce Coach specializing in conflict work.  She has worked in private practice for nearly 17 years and holds licenses as a Professional Counselor and Registered Nurse.