Conflict is disagreement, but contrary to popular belief conflict does not necessarily involve fighting. Conflict exists in any situation where facts, desires or fears pull or push participants against each other or in opposing directions. Parents who are choosing to divorce turn to the court thinking a Judge will settle matters and life will be peaceful thereafter. This is far from the truth. Court is turned into a contest of black and white to determine, who is right/wrong; good/bad; best/worst. No one wants to be on the losing end of that contest, particularly when a relationship with one’s children is at stake.

If you really want to sort things out in the interest of your children, take Court out of the equation. What if Court wasn’t an option? With Court out of the way, parents would have to rely on working things out between themselves. Considering parenting issues aren’t really legal matters, but personal and interpersonal matters, this makes sense. The challenge is finding support to enable parents to resolve disputes between themselves and hopefully learn how to resolve future conflicts as they may arise. Mediation can assist with conflict resolution and in the process parents can learn skills to better resolve conflict between themselves. A mediator is a neutral third party who can help to facilitate the resolution process.  

If you can holster your ego to truly advance the interest of your children over your anger towards your ex and if you can choose conflict resolution and appreciate decisions made cooperatively are best for children and therefore seek to avoid court, you have a good chance of settling things between yourselves. This often requires parents to refocus. Instead of making the shortcomings of the other all the issue, parents will need to take some responsibility for their  own contribution to distress and learn new strategies for coping, communicating and resolving conflict. Conflict resolution is the process of trying to find a solution to a conflict.  Ideally conflict resolution is collaborative problem-solving, a cooperative talking-together process that leads to choosing a plan of action that both of you can feel good about.

To the degree parents can take on the work of self-control, self-evaluation as well as moderate and cooperative behaviour, mutual solutions can be generated and accepted. Problems can be addressed and resolved. In so doing, your children then learn how to manage conflict respectfully – life lessons that will serve them at every stage of life. Not only will they be spared the parental conflict, but will be better equipped in the event life throws them a curve ball. We are always role models to our children. The most significant role model of all is how we co-parent in the midst of being challenged. Parents are encouraged to step up over stepping out. In the end, you not only want a parenting plan, but to resolve conflict too. Your children deserve your best behaviour.