Rather than viewing the “big picture” of their conflict, many clients are determined to attack the other parent until he or she cries “uncle”. Custody-dispute clients often need to be reminded that their desire for custody should be tempered by the “best interest” standard for a child’s custody and residential placement. Clients in this emotional turmoil often forget that they will have to deal with their ex-spouse (ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend) for so long as they continue to have a child in common. That usually means for the rest of their lives. After years of bickering and public displays of animosity, will one of the parents be uninvited to a child’s wedding ceremony, for fear that “mom and dad always have a fight and will likely cause a scene if they are both at our wedding reception.” This scenario can be avoided.
Clients need to be reminded that they simply should work on their relationship with the child. Be friendly, caring, giving, but be the adult in the room.
Parents often fail to realize that their future relationship with a child will be based upon the deposits they make into a child’s “loving relationship bank.” Quite often, such deposits have been neglected for years before I meet with the parent, and a considerable amount of damage control may be necessary. As a man with many years of therapy under his belt, I can affirm that spending time with a professional counselor can truly help. A parent who is committed to repairing a broken relationship with a child should immediately seek professional assistance. A therapist or counselor can be a good role model for behavior during stressful times.