3 Things You Can Do to Help Someone Going Through a Minneapolis Divorce
We talked with a school social worker this past fall who asked if we could present to her group of all the school social workers in her district about how to work with [and in the process assist] parents in conflict. We immediately had a “Well, duh!” moment and thought “What a great idea! Of COURSE this would be a perfect for topic us to present!” So we scheduled it and put together a great presentation on techniques for basically staying neutral and staying out of the middle of parents in conflict.
These ideas might also apply to ANYONE who has friends in a similar situation. Perhaps you are friends with both parents who are divorcing or already divorced, and who are in conflict. Perhaps your children are friends with their children, etc. In fact, these are good ideas for removing yourself from ANY conflict.
Take A Reality Check
When you have friends who are divorcing or may be a teacher or social worker at a school working with a family experiencing a divorce, you can very quickly start to feel like you are caught in the middle. Stick with the facts and point out to your friends that you are feeling caught in the middle.
“Even I can’t deal with the two of you any more…”
I am just your daughter’s teacher! I don’t even talk with you everyday”
How do you suppose your children are feeling?”
Use some redirection
Help your friends focus on the future and avoid blame and fault. This can be tough to navigate. It’s important, as a friend or a professional, that you listen to the venting and complaining. We sympathize and try to offer comfort – but only for so long. At some point, you will want to start asking meaningful questions to help your friends move forward such as, “So what are you going to do so that it doesn’t happen again?” If you foudn yourself in the middle or are part of the conflict happening, you can ask “What steps can I take to make this better?” Once they identify their next steps, hold them to it. Most will want to keep venting, but being forced to think about how to SOLVE the problem is important too, even a temporary solution or a step in the direction of a solution can help.
Encourage a shift in their thinking
One of the best things we can do is to try to shift their thinking. We recommend magical questions like:
What do you need?
What do you need from the other parent?
What do you need him/her to say to help you move forward?
What do you need from the school at this point so that your child will thrive?
What do you need from me so that we can resolve this?
What if it does work?
This is a favorite of mine, because people are SO convinced that nothing the “other” person suggests will ever work or ever be followed through on
This is also an opportunity to suggest that perhaps they could just TRY something – even for a short period of time - because (again) what if it works?
“If you could write the script, what would you like to see happen?”
Sometimes it’s as if people haven’t been given the opportunity to think of solutions, and they are stumped!
I find this question gets them to start thinking of solutions very quickly.
Now if I could just remind MYSELF to do this too, I’d be golden!
If you feel like you’re in the middle of a conflict or divorce with your friends, these quick tips can help you step out of the middle and help your friends move forward. I have found these ideas can also help if I am in a conflict with someone else. It only takes one to change the interaction!