Parenting

How Does Custody Work in Massachusetts?

How Does Custody Work in Massachusetts?

The word “custody” conjures ugly divisive images for many people. This post will clarify how child custody works in Massachusetts. Two Types of Custody In Massachusetts there is legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves a parent’s legal right to making decisions for their child. Physical custody relates to time the child lives with Continue Reading »

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Your Kids and Divorce: Mediating a Child-First Divorce

Your Kids and Divorce: Mediating a Child-First Divorce

What do kids and divorce negotiations have to do with one another? A lot! (for parents). Thinking about your kids could be the best decision you’ll make in your divorce negotiation. Your Kids’ Shoes I recently wrapped up a mediation that was a model child-centered divorce. The parents weren’t buddies. They didn’t spend a lot Continue Reading »

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What is a Mediator? Mediation Questions Answered on the Inside Divorce Podcast

What is a Mediator? Mediation Questions Answered on the Inside Divorce Podcast

I had a blast recently being interviewed by divorce attorney Cynthia Auckly-Barbuto of the Law Firm of Grossman & Associates in Newton, MA. Cynthia hosted an edition of their Inside Divorce Podcast. We spent a half hour answering questions like “What is a mediator?” and “How can mediation help parents in high conflict situations divorce?” Click to hear Ben Continue Reading »

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Mediators Can Help HIGH Conflict: Fact or Fiction?

Mediators Can Help HIGH Conflict: Fact or Fiction?

People tell me “I want to refer someone to you but they are really high conflict so there’s no way mediation could work for them.” Then, I take a deep breathe, resist the urge to say something like “that doesn’t make sense!” and ask them to tell me about the situation. FICTION: Mediators only works for Continue Reading »

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Dealing With Divorce Can Be Easier When You Think Like a Kindergartener

Dealing With Divorce Can Be Easier When You Think Like a Kindergartener

I am always trying to find a unique twist for my posts. Something that sets my ideas apart. Thinking about this post, common expressions I hear from parents in mediation kept running through my mind. Statements like: He’s so demanding. She’s so controlling. He’s rude. She’s bossy. Hmmm…I wonder what mind-blowing advice I could provide Continue Reading »

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6 Ways to Deal with Rigid Black and White Thinkers Inspired by Mediation for Divorce Clients

6 Ways to Deal with Rigid Black and White Thinkers Inspired by Mediation for Divorce Clients

  Do you ever feel like banging your head against the wall when dealing with rigid and inflexible people? Folks who get stuck in only one way of thinking? Who have trouble seeing the forest through the trees? Ever find yourself in a conversation that seems to be going nowhere because the other person doesn’t Continue Reading »

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3 Divorce Mediation Tips: How to Deal with Family Problems

3 Divorce Mediation Tips: How to Deal with Family Problems

Echos of a divorce mediation: She doesn’t get it! He’s SO emotional. All they’re going to do is talk about their FEELINGS. She’s SO patronizing. All he’s going to do is talk about what is LOGICAL. Can you relate to arguing with someone whose brain operates in a fundamentally different way than yours? Common Dynamics Continue Reading »

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Ping-Pong Arguments: Two Tips for Dealing with Family Conflict Inspired by the Divorce Mediation Process

Ping-Pong Arguments: Two Tips for Dealing with Family Conflict Inspired by the Divorce Mediation Process

There are some great concepts that mediators use in the mediation process that can be applied right at home. Let’s break down mediator jargon to make it useful for dealing with family conflict. My way or the highway doesn’t work well in the divorce mediation process, and it won’t in your home either… Positions: Many Continue Reading »

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5 Steps to a Great Apology | Family Conflict Management Strategies From a Divorce Mediator

5 Steps to a Great Apology | Family Conflict Management Strategies From a Divorce Mediator

Ever receive an apology that didn’t feel apologetic? Left you feeling worse? Angrier? Infuriated? In mediation — and in life — I see apologies of all shapes, sizes and colors. Some feel authentic and cathartic. Some feel compulsory and meaningless. Some feel passive-aggressive and irritating. And some downright hurtful. “I’m sorry you feel that way” Continue Reading »

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Child Custody Mediation Tip: One Itsy-Bitsy Word Can Make a Huge Difference

Child Custody Mediation Tip: One Itsy-Bitsy Word Can Make a Huge Difference

Two never-married parents in a child custody mediation despise one another. They chose child custody mediation to push themselves to improve their communication and co-parenting. They are practicing some classic communication strategies. Reflecting back what they are hearing to make sure they understand one another. Listening without interrupting. Even trying to validate feelings. Amazing strategies. Continue Reading »

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How to Deal With Teenage Drama | Mediation | Teen Counseling Natick, MA

How to Deal With Teenage Drama | Mediation | Teen Counseling Natick, MA

Understatement of the year: teenagers are tough to parent. Tell me something you don’t know, right? Some conventional ways parents deal with their intransigent teens involve arguing, punishing, ignoring, avoiding, and when push comes to shove, therapy. I recently had success with an unconventional approach with two “heated” teenagers who almost fought on the bus. Continue Reading »

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Feeling Ignored? MA Child Support Mediation Shows Why You Get Bewildered When Solutions to Family Problems Are Ignored…And What To Do About It!

Feeling Ignored? MA Child Support Mediation Shows Why You Get Bewildered When Solutions to Family Problems Are Ignored…And What To Do About It!

Ever offer a solution to a problem that you know will help the other person? A brilliant, selfless, creative, and irrefutable solution? Like this one I heard during a MA child support mediation: “I really won’t care if you reduce the child support.” How many parents paying child support would LOVE to be told that Continue Reading »

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One Simple Way to Improve Marital Problems, Family Conflict, & Communication in Relationships

One Simple Way to Improve Marital Problems, Family Conflict, & Communication in Relationships

Ever get really impatient waiting for an answer to a question? I know a lot of people like this (you know, like me). Unfortunately, this impatience causes problems. Let’s take Jake, a student with whom I work. One of his teachers had a frustrating experience with him. The teacher asked him a question. Jake looked Continue Reading »

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Hate Your Ex More Than You Love Your Kids? Children of Divorce

Hate Your Ex More Than You Love Your Kids? Children of Divorce

There is a family judge in Massachusetts who makes decisions for children of divorce every day. She has a sign hanging on her door that reads: Do You Hate Your Ex More Than You Love Your Kids? Provocative question, right? You might be thinking “of course I don’t — that’s just ridiculous!” Maybe you are Continue Reading »

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Shut Up To Improve Communication Skills! Marriage and Parenting Advice From a Family Mediator

Shut Up To Improve Communication Skills! Marriage and Parenting Advice From a Family Mediator

I used to interview prospective staff for a residential treatment program before I became a family mediator. Whenever I asked them to describe qualities that would make them a good child care worker I was invariably told something like, “I love to help people and I’m a GREAT listener.” Yet, when I would walk in to Continue Reading »

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Parenting Tips for How to Help Your Kids Resolve Conflict

Parenting Tips for How to Help Your Kids Resolve Conflict

It’s Halloween time. Two brothers are upset because one of the two pumpkins had to be thrown out. Brothers did what brothers do: argue. They both wanted the remaining pumpkin to be their pumpkin. Their mother tried her best to encourage them to share, to reprimand them, and even threatened to take the pumpkin away Continue Reading »

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4 Key Strategies for Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce

4 Key Strategies for Successful Co-Parenting After Divorce

Co-Parenting After Divorce While divorce can seem like an overwhelming obstacle, for many parents it is just the beginning of a new and equally intimidating challenge: co-parenting your children. Hopefully, if you’re reading this you are still involved in your children’s lives, and hopefully co-parenting. I write under the assumption that you both care deeply Continue Reading »

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Co-Parenting After Divorce When You Hate Your Ex But Love Your Kids

Co-Parenting After Divorce When You Hate Your Ex But Love Your Kids

A few weeks ago a divorce mediation client was venting frustration in a private session about certain aspects of child support and co-parenting after divorce. She was convinced that her husband would be irresponsible with the money and spend more of it on himself than the kids. To prove her point she pointed out that Continue Reading »

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