When it comes to child custody agreements, the word “agreement” is often overlooked. In many cases, two parents who both want what they believe is best for their children are at odds with one another and are fiercely fighting for control of the situation.
Sometimes, conflict is inevitable. And there are cases where one parent deserves custody because the other is in some way objectively unfit. More often than not, however, both parents deserve to have continued access to their children and their children would benefit from keeping both parents in their lives.
A recent opinion piece on The Huffington Post discusses the dangers of viewing child custody as a zero-sum game. In zero-sum situations, one opponent’s gain is necessarily the other opponent’s loss. While this model is a very familiar one in many aspects of American society, it may not be a good approach to child custody.
Instead, many families might benefit from a cooperation and mutual-success model. If divorcing parents are willing to put the needs of their children first, this may be the best way to ensure success for the whole family. In many cases, children would benefit from and actively want both parents in their lives. Moreover, they want parents who can get along with one another well enough to have a working co-parent relationship.
It is not easy to parent this way after divorce. The very fact that you got divorced suggests that the relationship with your spouse was not working. But if you can make co-parenting work, you may find that your relationship with your children is better, your kids are happier and your “wins” in life do not have to mean that someone else loses.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Avoiding the Zero Sum Game When Families Split,” Claire N. Barnes, Nov. 11, 2014