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is Better, Blue or Green?
separated parents are locked in dispute, each believing in their version of
what’s best for the child. Unable to settle matters concerning the ongoing
parenting of the children, they turn to the Courts for relief. Further they
present with a belief that upon extolling the righteousness of their position to
the Court, their case will be won. Hence, upon taking the stand, they launch
into their script.
the Court is not bound by the position or preference of either parent. In other
words, the objective is not necessarily to choose a side although this may
objective of the Court is to determine what is in the best interests of the
child. This determination may reflect one or other parent and even neither
parent. In making the determination, the Court seeks to understand the relative
strengths and weaknesses of both parents and their respective plans. Further,
the Court seeks to understand the needs of the child. The Court then attempts to
best match the needs of the child with the strengths and weaknesses of the
parents and plans so as to develop an independent plan that addresses the
child’s needs. In other words, the parents present themselves as resources to
the child and the Court selects from those resources to best meet the child’s
times, both separated parents present themselves as adequate or similar
resources and both may present reasonable plans. However, their plans may
provide mutually exclusive alternatives, such as when parents oppose each other
on the choice of school. Each parent will extol the virtue of their choice and
both can be right even though different, but clearly the child may only attend
conflicts are referred to as value differences, as in one values this and one
values that. There is nothing really inherently wrong with either, except for
the fact that they are different.
In such cases, it is as if the parents are arguing the merits of two distinct colours; say blue and green, where each parent is determined to convince the listener that one colour is distinctly better than the other. Truth is, neither colour is better, they are just different. Better is just a matter of personal preference, despite the arguments in favour of either.
situations where there are only two distinct alternatives as in school
selection, the Court may have to choose one over the other. In doing so, one
parent may feel the winner and the other the loser. Some parents are then able
to abide by the decision of the Court and others are not. Those who are unable
to abide by the decision, may cry foul and present themselves as hard done by.
They may seek to undo the decision by continuing to appeal, seeking other
opinions, or undermining the credibility of the Court.
parents are unable to abide by the decision of the Court, the children are
continually subject to the parental animosity. Worse still, some parents induct
the child into the dispute directly and thus the child feels not only the sting
of ongoing conflict, but may develop the belief that the outcome is bad and
hence they then feel badly for themselves.
parents are to be cautioned in these situations. It is not picking blue or green
that harms the child or one school over another, but rather the ongoing parental
conflict in view of the decision.
are advised to support the child in view of the decision and make the best of
the situation. This tends to be more productive in terms of the child’s
well-being than seeking to reverse the decision and subjecting the child to
further hardship and conflict.
Blue or green is less important than accepting the colour chosen. Harm or harmony, the choice is yours.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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