How many times have you heard the phrase the “new normal?” It crops up frequently here at The Mediation Table. For the families in transition I see in mediation, we recognize that divorce is a life narrative that has been shattered. Your life is not going to proceed as you envisioned. However, we also recognize that divorce does not end the family, it restructures it – thus, the “new normal.”
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve met our Modern Family and have seen they had a contentious divorce but after their Day of Reckoning (day-of-reckoning.html) decided they needed to work together in a more harmonious way for the good of their children. As with many divorces, our Modern Family had to make some hard choices and begin creating their “new normal” at the time of divorce. Some of those choices were big – like living arrangements and job adjustments – and some were small, like creating new traditions in the day-to-day. But they all worked together to create the “new normal” for all members of the family.
Modern Family Dad always traveled a lot for his job, but when they created their Parenting Plan, the Modern Family Parents decided it would be best for them to equally share their parenting time. That meant Modern Family Dad had to make some changes. He no longer traveled during his parenting weeks and he arranged with his employer to come into the office later and leave earlier during his parenting time. This was all part of creating the “new normal.” (As a teacher, Modern Family Mom already had some of the needed flexibility). Modern Family Dad also recognized the importance of creating new daily routines for him and the Modern Family Children in this “new normal.” He started walking his children to the elementary school down the block each morning after packing their lunches together. This was an important new ritual in their mornings that included stopping at a special corner in the sidewalk they christened the Hug Triangle, where Modern Family Dad said a special good-bye to each child for the day.
None of these things existed prior to the divorce. These were all purposefully constructed new accommodations and traditions designed to restructure the family framework for both the adults and the children in our Modern Family to make them feel happy and secure. These job changes, as well as fresh, day-to-day traditions contributed to the “new normal” for our Modern Family.
How can mediation help?
Change is inevitable in divorce. All divorcing families are in transition. As we can see by our Modern Family example, it is possible to take the intentions begun in mediation and build new traditions for your family. Mediation allows for full explorations of all those possibilities - the big ones like living arrangements and job accommodations - as well as space to begin thinking about the new traditions you will create. So, what will your “new normal” look like?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.