MIAMI – As summer moves along, it may be time for parents’ visiting days at overnight camp.
These are times when parents can watch their kids participate in a wide range of activities, and meet other families, camp counselors, and new friends their children have made.
It’s a time of joy and with proper planning, these visits can be extremely rewarding for recently divorced parents. And, thanks to an innovative organization that guides parents through a divorce and post-divorce scenarios, activities like these, can result in life-long memories for children, moms, and dads.
“It all starts with communication that is centered on stressing that the emotional well-being of the children must be a priority,” said Todd Burley, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a collaboratively trained facilitator and a member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute ([color=#0b78f2]www.collaborativefamlaw.com[/color]), an organization that brings civility, a focus on mutual outcomes, and a concern for children to divorce proceedings. “These outcomes come into play on many occasions and planning for visiting day at summer camp is one of them.”
Based in Miami, this organization offers a voluntary process in which couples, with the assistance of a team of collaboratively-trained lawyers, financial professionals, and mental health professionals, work toward reaching a settlement on fair and equitable terms without the financial and emotional costs that often accompany litigation. Through the Collaborative Process, the parties choose to resolve the issues in their dissolution in a mutually beneficial way, outside of the court system. In a Collaborative divorce, the parties are empowered to make their own decisions and customize the terms of an agreement based upon their particular needs and interests.
“At the core of our process is creating a detailed post-divorce parenting plan that includes how to address events that frequently cause stress after more traditional divorces,” added Burley. “We stress ongoing communications and adherence to this plan so there are no surprises. Built into the plan is also recognition that there must be flexibility and respect for each other.”
Planning ahead – and keeping to the plan -- eliminates the anxiety and gives parents an opportunity to remember what it’s like to be a kid during the time at summer camp. It also provides accurate expectations for the parents when these anticipated activities approach.
“Children should enjoy these visits and have the opportunity to proudly and enthusiastically discuss new experiences, friends, and activities with their parents,” said Joan Gaines, Psychologist, and collaboratively trained divorce facilitator. “And divorced parents will enjoy this time with proper planning.”
Several issues covered by a post-divorce parenting plan relate specifically to summer camp visits. “Summer camp visits can be together, if there is harmony between the parents. Each parent may want to schedule time alone with the child. Parents can attend the child’s camp activities together, even if they decide not to sit together (I.e. a play or their child’s water sports), added Gaines.
[b]Other issues to consider include:[/b]
[b] . [/b] Do parents attend together, or on separate days?
[b] . [/b] Is it OK to for a parent to bring a current boyfriend, girlfriend?
[b] . [/b] The importance of ALWAYS supporting a child’s time with the other parent.
[b] . [/b] Come up with a plan, nothing vague.
[b] . [/b] Always be child-centric and realize that flexibility will be needed as they get older.
[b]The Collaborative Process offers a distinct departure from the more traditional approaches to divorce and has the advantages of:[/b]
[b] . [/b] Privacy
[b] . [/b] Transparency
[b] . [/b] Control of outcomes, and
[b] . [/b] Better use of resources (money, time, energy)
The Collaborative Process helps reset the dialogue, focuses on protecting children from the effects of divorce and results in parents being better able to co-parent in the future. It allows them to discuss potential conflicts and agree to ways to resolve them that are included in the parenting plan.
“It is possible to put marital differences aside while maintaining – and even improving – the family dynamic,” said Gaines. “Once parents realize that it is possible to have a healthy outcome for the family, they are open to considering our path. When implemented properly, families are happier, financially secure, and understand that they can eliminate the hostilities of a traditional divorce.”
It all starts with communications and acknowledging the importance of having a healthy family after a divorce.
“The key is to mutually agree on these types of things during the divorce and keep the lines of communication always open with a spirit of cooperation that puts children first,” added Burley. “Our team of professionals continually stresses that it is very possible and in the best interests of everyone to maintain a healthy family dynamic following a divorce. Through the Collaborative Process the family can maintain its structure, albeit different, in the aftermath of a divorce.”
“The goal is to stress mutual respect between mom and dad so that summer continues to be an important time for the family.”