This year’s celebration of Independence Day got me thinking. What is it about freedom – not only as a country but as individuals – that is so important and appealing to us. What does it really mean? In today’s world and political climate this question could trigger a debate instantly. But if you take politics out of it and really think about the bigger picture – what does independence really mean to you as you make your life choices?
The Need for Independence and Autonomy
There is a three-year-old lunatic that lives in my house. It is in equal parts adorable and infuriating when she has to “Do It MYSELF”, especially when we are running late. Even as toddlers, we are innately driven to do things on our own and, just like that toddler, we also hate being told what to do. There is no faster way to get a child to do something than to tell them not to do it. And while we hopefully outgrow some of this as we get older, most adults value their autonomy and want to make their own decisions.
I believe that the need for autonomy and self-determination is motivating and driving the rapid growth of using mediation to resolve the issues within a divorce or parenting issues. Every day I state the obvious – divorce is hard. Co-parenting is hard. It is hard on the people going through it, it is hard on their kids if they have them, and it is hard on their finances. However, mediation allows adults some sense of “I’ll do it MYSELF”. The parties to a divorce, the parents of their children, know better than anyone else what will and will not work for their family. They are the experts of themselves.
Navigating Divorce with Independence
Mediation allows adults to have the required conversations and provides tools to explore all of the possible options to dissolve their marriage. Everyone’s divorce is different, and everyone’s family is different. What works for one would be crazy for another. Can you imagine how stifling and impossible it would be if every marriage had to be the same, with the same roles and expectations? Divorce and co-parenting are no different. Often in court families are forced to fit into a pre-prescribed mold or assigned roles that just don’t work with their actual day-to-day lives. Tempers flare, emotions are left raw and unable to heal, and the difficulty of moving on and moving forward is greatly exacerbated.
This doesn’t mean that sitting together at the table and unraveling a marriage is easy. In some respects, sitting at the table and communicating with an ex, or soon to be ex, is harder than doing it through an attorney. It requires the parties navigating divorce do the heavy lifting and put in some work. But, just like that toddler, doing it yourself and moving forward the way that you have chosen to is a much easier pill to swallow than being told what to do. It also allows you to understand the “why” – you may not like a certain part of your agreement, but you at least understand how you got there.
Mediation allows people to truly customize their divorce and their parenting plans. It allows individuals to put the family and the children first, even if the marriage is ending or has ended. As you think about independence and freedoms – is there any major life decision you don’t want to make yourself? To avoid costly litigation and wasting years in the court system, call Keystone Mediation today for a free consultation to find out how you can begin navigating divorce with independence.