Power and Empowerment: The Collaborative Child Specialist
By Bart J. Carey, Esq.
In speaking with a parent contemplating divorce, I always speak with the understanding that it is most likely the parents who best understand their children and what is best for themselves and the family. I assume parents are the best people to shepherd their children through life’s toughest challenges, including divorce.
Divorce is a tough time for the whole family, parents and children – of all ages. It’s a crisis like they’ve never faced before, challenging their very identity as parents, children, family and each of their places/roles/futures in and as a family. But I also know, empowered to do so, parents will do their best to meet these challenges in consideration of the best interests of their children.
For these and many other reasons, I always assure parents I am confident, with the best advice and counsel available, they will make the best decisions regarding their children.
Using a Child Specialist Empowers Parents
The child specialist is uniquely qualified to advise and to equip parents with the information and insights which, when combined with their own, will empower them to best serve the best interests of their children. Here are some of the ways which I have witnessed the power of the Child Specialist in an interdisciplinary process:
Children, both minors and adults, are stakeholders and major influences “in the room” whenever the parents meet.
The Child Specialist is uniquely situated to bring them “in the room” and center the clients on family goals and consensus building;
Children are a significant part of the divorcing family dynamic and not always in the most supportive/functional way.
Children who “act out” are likely those whose voices are not being heard and/or needs are not being met. The Child Specialist, by helping parents identify these needs and address them, empowers the children with a ‘voice’. Instead of becoming more ‘needy’, demanding and self-absorbed, their experience is one of empowerment. This leads to adjustment/acceptance of the new family structure.
The Impartial Child Specialist Amplifies the Voice of the Children.
Because the ‘Neutral’ Child Specialist aligns with the kids, she is not a true neutral. But being impartial in relation to the parents powerfully amplifies the voice of the children. She tangibly communicates the kids’ reality to the parents. This moderates the conversation whether the Child Specialist speaks or not.
Parents work directly with the Child Specialist as the voice of the child(ren).
This discourages them looking to their lawyers or others as decision makers and empowers them as parents. Hence, the process empowers parents to focus on children’s needs and interests. In this way, the Child Specialist helps all professionals value the parents role. As a result, the parents keep control of the parenting decisions.
Empowering Parents and Bringing the Children “Into the Room.”
In sum, the Child Specialist brings the children “into the room”, while empowering parents with valuable information and guidance. The Child Specialist’s “voice of the children” empowers parents to get [back] on common ground and focus on meeting the present and ongoing needs and interests of the children. He has the unique ability to empower the parents to focus on something bigger than themselves.
Learn from Bart Carey In-person at CP Cal Conference XIII.
On April 29, 2018, at CP Cal Conference XIII in San Mateo, Family Lawyer Bart Carey, Neutral Financial Specialist Cathleen Collinsworth, Divorce Coach and Child Specialist Bruce Fredenburg, and Divorce Coach and Child Specialist Carol Hughes, all professionals from Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County, are presenting a workshop about the value that the Child Specialist brings to Collaborative Divorce Teams.