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Discussing Female Genital Mutilation Non-Judgementally

I was schooled on Linked In this morning when I read an exchange between two persons on the subject of Female Genital Mutilation.

Not only was I eloquently informed on the subject, but I experienced a Master class on how to remain non-defensive while presenting one’s views firmly yet non-judgmentally.

Here is the discussion (names have been changed to maintain anonymity)…

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Is Female Genital Mutilation child abuse? Why?

Karen

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of child abuse because it is forcibly injuring a child, potentially causing them physical and permanent damage to their reproductive organs and overall health. It can cause complications such as infection- which can occur as a result of the original procedure or during menstruation and child birth. FGM can also cause death either through the initial procedure by infection or the loss of blood.

Many cultures practice FGM differently, some forms carry a higher risk of death. On an emotional level, most women who have undergone FGM, do not experience pleasure during intercourse and usually suffer pain. Cultures that practice FGM may have many values behind the practice but one consistent theme, is that it is viewed as a rite of passage for womanhood and is seen as a deterrent for promiscuity and to decrease infidelity. It is argued that women should not find sexual intercourse too pleasing as it means they may seek it out elsewhere.

FGM is considered child abuse because it causes physical damage and trauma to a child based solely on cultural norms and usually without any form of pain killer. It also psychologically reinforces to a child that she is in some way tainted or imperfect and will not be accepted by her society and future spouse if she does not undergo FGM. Furthermore, it sends the message to the child that her body is not her own and will soon be owned and possessed by her future spouse. The child is essentially taught that her body is a vessel for male sexual pleasures and child bearing.

This mindset is reinforced and perpetuated by other women who have historically undergone the procedure. There is a lot more being done to highlight the issue and it is considered a criminal offense in some countries. However, there are very few prosecutions. The cultural significance of FGM is deeply entrenched in some societies and this makes it harder to combat. Education is found to be the key ingredient in tacking FGM. But this requires the collaboration of governments, NGO’s and community leaders.

I think as social workers we need to be mindful that this is practiced in western countries. The better informed we about the practice the more likely we are to notice any signs or cultural practices that may support the use and implementation of FGM. This is not to say we should assume or stereotype. But it is considered more widespread than previously thought. We have become more diverse as societies and with this come practices that may be harmful. It is important to note that adults who support FGM are usually victims of the practice themselves and may be ignorant or in denial that it is harmful in anyway. Sensitivity is paramount when addressing FGM. Understanding the systemic and culture significance can help to better understand its existence and continued practice on women and young girls.

Nima

What utter rubbish! Where do you people get your theories from? I can’t believe what I have just read.

Firstly let me point some facts about female cutting (not FGM) as those who have gone through the practice do not see it as abuse as they felt that their mothers or ancestors did this for the love of them. It was ancient tradition that passed through African communities whom were illiterate and followed what was the cultural norm of their beliefs. All the thousands of girls that I know have good positive relationships with their mothers. Victims of female cutting do not see them as mutilated and it’s a complete and utter lie that such women do not get sexual satisfaction. Finally this practice is practically non existent and that’s why it’s been difficult to find any prosecutions. Diaspora communities are fed up with westerns telling them what happens in their community and especially when such lies are expressed in the media.

Karen

Nima, I am very interested in your opinion but there is no need to call anyone’s opinion here rubbish. We can have differing views. It was not my intention to exert my western views on an ancient practice. I personally was not pointing at African countries specifically nor saying those who have experienced FGM, do not have great relationships with their mothers. I did say it was deeply entrenched in some cultures which means it is viewed as a norm by both those who practice FGM and those who have experienced it. There is also plenty of evidence based research compiled by non westerners that back some of what I’ve pointed out. By no means does this apply to all. These are some of the implications that have been experienced by many who have undergone genital cutting.

Some cultures cut off some or all of the skin which can result in decreased sexual pleasure. Others sow up the vagina, and a small hole is left. This can cause infection built up by menstrual blood or urinary infections. The sowed up vagina is only widened after sexual intercourse which can be incredibly painful. Birth of children through scar tissue can also be deeply painful and dangerous.

There are many women who support FGM. But there are thousands of young girls who undergo this procedure in Egypt, Pakistan, Africa and in the West… that have experienced severe physical and psychological trauma as a result. Largely due to unhygienic tools used. There are medical and anthropological data that support this. Moreover, there also young and adult survivor testimony that backs this up.

This discussion however, was addressing whether it is considered child abuse. Usually the practice is done before the age of consent. I think this is where as social workers, we have to put aside our own values and beliefs and look at the best interest of the child. The law in the UK and in Canada where I am clearly stipulates this act upon a child is illegal. These policies are based on thorough research into the practice.

I apologize for generalizing in my post. It was not my intention to dismiss women who have had positive experiences with FGM. If an adult female wishes to undergo the practice safely and under medical supervision, then that is her right. I think we are looking at children that are forced to undergo this practice and why it can be viewed as child abuse.

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That’s what it is about and that is how to express opinion about it.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Separation? Pen that first lawyer letter wisely, or…

A parent has his or her first meeting with their lawyer. The parent is upset, hurt and angry. It seems divorce is inevitable. The lawyer engages with the parent who while seeking a settlement, is also seeking retribution for the real or perceived wrongdoing of the other. The lawyer is prepared to send a letter on behalf of the parent in front of them on the basis of the one-sided account of events and demands. What will the letter say? What will be its tone?

Imagine being on the receiving end of the intended letter. You are likely well aware how your other conflicts have ended up. If the letter comes across as accusatory, even if deserved, the reply will likely start defensively and then turn offensive as the receiver of the letter first denies or minimizes the accusations and then seeks to “set the record straight” with his or her version of events. You will receive that response and then imagine how you will feel and how you would like to respond in kind.

Thus the conflict that saw the demise of the relationship will enter the settlement process and the settlement process will serve as the venue for not only the continuation of the dispute, but escalation too. Not much of a settlement process.

In view of the above, the direction a case goes is often predictable from the first volley of lawyer letters.

Notwithstanding upset and anger, the challenge for the distraught parent is to realize that angry or demanding legal letters while seemingly cathartic, are typical antithetical to settling disputes. So you may get your feelings off your chest, but expect them to bounce back with venom from the other side only to inflame you further.

If you want to get your feelings off your chest, see a counselor. If you want to settle your dispute, don’t start out accusatory, start out conciliatory.

Make sure you chose a lawyer who can help you separate your anger from what behavior and strategies will be conducive to reaching a settlement and remember, the greater the conflict, the greater the expense in reaching that settlement. Make sure you review your lawyer’s letters before any are sent so that your lawyer doesn’t inadvertently mirror your anger or tone.

If there are serious issues of concern such as power and control, violence, abuse, drugs or alcohol use, then you may wish to raise those issues, again, not in an accusatory fashion, but as matters of concern to be addressed in the settlement process.

If the other side responds defensively, angrily or accusatory, the strategy is not to defend and then fire back, but continue with the strategy of settlement. You can offer to attend mediation, collaborative law, assessment, arbitration or parenting coordination. The strategy is not to send volleys of defensive or accusatory letters, but engage in a process where the issues can be heard, addressed and resolved.

If your situation appears high conflict, you may have to look at yourself to determine if there is anything in terms of your behavior that contributes to mutual distress and aggravation. If indeed your behavior plays a part in the conflict, then settlement may require some change on your part too. The challenge here is to not only project culpability on the other side for the demise of the relationship but to take responsibility for one’s own contribution too.

If settlement is the goal and you wish to be spared from the expense and upset of a drawn out and expensive court battle, the key then is to focus on settlement and disengage from the name calling by concentrating on the outcome you seek and peaceful strategies for attainment.

BTW – Many lawyers trained in Collaborative Family Law won’t send a letter. They will pick up the phone and have a reasonable chat with the other lawyer. As for mediators, they approach your situation from a place of neutrality, representing neither party but an opportunity to find solutions to your quagmire. Ask yourself, is your legal strategy really geared towards settlement or inadvertently positioned to inflame matters.

Seek a peaceful resolution.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

http://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60758978&trk=tab_pro
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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Separated Parents and the Continuum of Conflict

Not all parental separations are alike and not all parental separations spell disaster for their children. The social science research advises that the most salient factor in determining risk for poor developmental outcomes for children subject to parental divorce is the level of conflict between the parents.

Degree of parental conflict can be thought of as a continuum:

conflict-continuum

Although estimates vary somewhat, in general terms, most separating parents (80%) fall somewhere between the low to moderate degree of conflict on this continuum.

Low conflict separated parents typically hold little to no animosity towards each other, can resolve their differences amicably and support each other with regard to parenting decisions. These parents require little in terms of third party help. In the daycare or school setting, care providers and teachers likely wouldn’t even be aware the child’s parents had separated.

Moderately conflicted parents typically do hold a modicum of anger or animosity towards each other. The parents can be at different stages of their emotional adjustment. Differences can escalate to conflict which at times can require the help of third parties to resolve. Those third parties can include lawyers, mediators and counselors. Most often, with the help of a third party, parental differences do get resolved and the parents honor their parenting arrangements.In the daycare or school setting, children of moderately conflicted parents may at times appear sullen or withdrawn or angry or distracted. On the basis of behavior associated with those emotions, a child may come to the attention of the care provider or teacher.

With regard to high conflict separated parents, at least one parent, if not both, holds a great deal of animosity. One or both parents will vilify the other. One or both will present themselves as the victim of the other. One or both will also present themselves as holding the best interests of the child on a greater basis than the other. Conflict tends to be unremitting and as soon as one issue is resolved, several others may surface. There may or may not be a realistic basis to some or all the complaints one parent has of the other. Children in these situations tend to be caught in the middle. They are often used as go-betweens and they are often exposed to the parental animosity. These children are at risk of surfacing with behavioral, emotional and psychological issues that interfere with daily functioning.

Interventions aimed at supporting separated parents through their transition from living together in one home to living apart with the children transferring between them will differ depending on the level of conflict between them. Further, the degree to which parental collaboration should be encouraged will also differ depending on their level of conflict.

Common thinking suggests that all parents should get along and discuss any and all matters concerning the children. In a perfect world, that would benefit the kids. However, understanding that conflict itself is poison to a child’s development and some parents remain high conflict, intervention is not always aimed at facilitating communication and cooperation.

The greater the parental conflict the more likely that an increase of communication and expected cooperation will only intensify the conflict. As such, while interventions for the low to moderate conflicted separated parents can and should be aimed at facilitating communication and cooperation, with the high conflict separated parents interventions are best aimed at facilitating their disengagement. For the high conflict separated parents, the adage, tall fences make good neighbors should guide intervention.

The goal with high conflict separated parents is to structure a parenting plan that reduces the necessity for parental communication, contact and problem solving. To affect this, the parenting plan tends to be highly structured and somewhat rigid. Parents are not to rely upon each other. Each will have their own supports available to minimize either having to depend on the other understanding that all points of contact provide risk for re-engagement in conflict – poison to the children.

Working with separated parents, workers have to distinguish between the is and the ought. While separated parents ought to get along, that isn’t always what is. We work with what is, first and foremost. If the parents present in such a manner to suggest they can learn and change behavior to reduce their level of conflict, then over time, their parenting plan can allow for more flexibility.

Parental peace, reducing conflict, that is the goal and most predictive of children’s well being, both in childhood and their adult life.

Separated parents: Please play nicely and if you can’t, then leave each other alone.

(Download this article as a one-pager for handouts)

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

http://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60758978&trk=tab_pro
https://twitter.com/socialtworker

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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The Phone May Be Smart, The User, Not So Much.

Smart phones are ubiquitous in today’s society and are handed down to kids like a glass of water on a hot day.

The kids lap up their smart phone use, texting each other, tee-heeing, exchanging pics and finding handy access to Google for a quick explanation of anything they don’t already know.

Indeed with Google available as an extension of their hand, the reach of the child into the world of knowledge creates in the child a sense of unlimited intelligence. Now seemingly knowing everything, there is never a need for a youngster to consult an adult. In fact, with access to one’s peers 24/7, adults are apparently unnecessary for anything other than food, shelter and clothing. (Feeling used yet, mom and dad?)

While a portal to relationships and information, the smart phone isn’t discriminating. The information accessed isn’t screened by any particular standard, apart from perhaps loading advertorial content targeted by the phone’s capabilities to figure out the user’s purchasing preferences. Further, the smart phone while helping the child access information and others at lightning speed, also works in reverse allowing others to target the child at lightning speed and also non-discriminatory.

As quickly as thoughts can stream out from one child to another unfiltered, messages stream in from known and even unknown sources, also unfiltered.

Those thoughts that stream out can be those that in face to face situations, the child might otherwise filter and restrict. However with the immediacy of the instant texting and the distance provided by using the smart phone as a delivery device, normal social filters are shut down and at times, inappropriate messages are transmitted. In turn, this can lead to a flurry of similar messages forming a barrage or abuse bombs.

Interestingly, the lack of filter that permits the unrestricted transmission of messages also allows for the intrusive receiving of those same messages. With personal filters off, abuse bombs are sent, at times back and forth and with no defenses intact, emotional and psychological harm is wreaked. This is seen between persons known to each other. This is known as bullying. This creates psychological vulnerability. This leads to depression, anxiety and at times even death.

Now imagine your child’s availability to persons unknown to the child or perhaps even known, but with nefarious intent.

Your child as a target is made available by the very smart phone that was thought to be protective.

Seemingly harmless emails or texts by an elder predator begin innocuously, creating a sense of safety and familiarity to the child. There is a feeling of specialness created in the child for the attention of an older person taking interest. The secret and clandestine relationship continues and deepens. The communications escalate and the special relationship takes on a life of its own as the child is surreptitiously isolated from other friends and family. They are literally squeezed out by the volume of messages to and fro between the child and special admirer. Thereafter the child is ripe for exploitation. Be very afraid of your child’s communication with unknown contacts. Predators are often grooming several children at the same time just as when fishing, you may drop several lines in the water waiting to see where you get your first bite.

Offering a child a smart phone and warning them of the dangers and advising of appropriate use is akin to giving the four-year-old access to the gas stove yet telling them to be careful.

Just as the four-year-old doesn’t have the life experience to appreciate the dangers of the gas stove, neither does the young teen nor pre-teen have the life experience or cognitive capacity to truly appreciate the dangers of the smart phone, particularly as it relates to behavior designed to induct the child into an exploitative relationship. .

When might a teen be ready for use of a smart phone? When they can keep a job and pay for both the device and service plan themselves.

Holding down a job demonstrates some level of maturity and the mid to late adolescent teen is a bit past some of the more ego-centric thinking of the younger teen. Further, by making the purchase and carrying the cost themselves, they are likely to better appreciate the expense and be more responsible in terms of their care of the device.

The phone may be smart, however, the user not so much and mainly as a function of normal development.

If you really want your kids to remain safe, hold onto the smart phone and lend them your eye.

Be smarter than the phone.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

http://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60758978&trk=tab_pro
https://twitter.com/socialtworker

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Social Work Failing?

I read a recent blog post, filled with comments about social work failing.

I must have my head in the sand.

I graduated in 1985 and haven’t stopped working. I continue to sit on committees; I help organize conferences; I am active in the media; I collaborate with other social workers on a multitude of projects…

I also recognize that the human condition is such that a new crop of problems comes up with each generation, while many of the old problems will be chronic and likely forever lasting. That said, I do what I can individually, in groups and in my community to alleviate suffering and social injustice. I also continue to attend continuing education to expand my skill set, to be as best equipped as I can be to manage in a changing world.

From my perspective, social work is not failing. Social workers are like societal glue. We are integral to a functioning society. We work well in areas of uncertainty and know how to manage with limited resources.

Failure? No.

Tough job at times? That I can accept.

If you are feeling disheartened just consider the last client you helped and remember, helping is a lot like fishing. While we do help some, many more do get away.

However, for those we help, we make a difference.

I love my work and social work isn’t failing.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

http://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60758978&trk=tab_pro
https://twitter.com/socialtworker

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Where is the Neutrality in Mediation?

People attend mediation to resolve conflict and herein I am addressing mediation to resolve parenting disputes specifically – the care of children between separated parents..

I differentiate between issues and outcomes with regard to neutrality.

On the matter of issues, it may be difficult to remain neutral and may not be appropriate to remain neutral. Domestic violence, conflict, drug/alcohol abuse are known to be harmful and often puts one person at risk of harm over the other and at times, even at the hand of the other. Neutrality in the face of these and other issues may equal complicity or tacit acceptance. This really isn’t neutral or safe.

From an evaluative standpoint, it is reasonable to point out the inherent contribution to distress these issues impose in order to promote wellness (social, emotional, physical and even spiritual) and offer guidance to address those issues that otherwise drive conflict. Further and in consideration of “do no harm”, it behooves the mediator to address these issues as mentioned above for to not address them is tantamount to complicity and/or tacit acceptance, maintaining people at risk of harm. This is far from neutral as it inadvertently reinforces dysfunctional to unlawful to dangerous behavior.

However, we still respect self-determination and remain neutral with regard to the outcome. People can still decide for themselves – good or bad. In the end, it is their life – assuming the behavior in question is not a required reportable offense.

Mediation is more than compromise and I see it as having loftier general goals.

We seek the parties subject to mediation to  learn to resolve disputes respectfully as well as address those conditions within themselves that may contribute to ongoing harm and/or conflict. This creates more durable, lasting agreements.

In the area of family mediation where children’s lives hang in the outcome, remaining neutral with regard to outcome can be a daunting task. As family mediators, the well-being of children is top-of-mind particularly when conflict can fog the parental view of children’s needs. Outcome though, still remains a parental prerogative.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

http://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60758978&trk=tab_pro
https://twitter.com/socialtworker

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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Why do we work with High Conflict Separated Parents?

In addition to seeing separated parents who actually can put the needs of their children ahead of themselves, I also see a good many separated parents stuck in unremitting conflict.

Despite all the good information, education, coaching and even cajoling, they are bent on projecting blame and deflecting responsibility while continuously confusing their own needs and wants with the needs of their children. Indeed, while cloaking themselves as their child’s bastion of support and advocate of their best interests, their children are visibly straining under the weight of their parents’ hostility and animosity.

Whereas we want all children to grow up well, be responsible and prosper, the goals for children of high conflict parents are far more modest. They include mere survival – not committing suicide; minimizing the degree to which they will be affected by mental health problems associated with parental conflict (depression, anxiety, personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder), avoiding pregnancy and finishing high school.

The goals for the parents include, reducing the number of times they go to court; preserving assets that would otherwise go to more expensive forms of conflict resolution (litigation); limiting conflict with the law the result of drug or alcohol abuse or violent behavior; limiting the risk associating with domestic violence. To affect these parental goals, we seek to have them disengage – tall fences make good neighbors. We want them out of each other’s hair. To the degree we can meet these goals, the child related goals may fall in line.

Statistically, many of the parents seen as” high conflict”, have underlying personality disorders – a very stable, but idiosyncratic view of themselves and others, not supported by objective evidence. Their idiosyncratic view of themselves and the world creates conflict between themselves and others even when they ascribe all manner of blame to the other.

Common to the pattern of personality disorder seen is a fellow with a narcissistic personality disorder and a woman with either a borderline, histrionic or dependent personality disorder. In the event of working with a couple where one parent has a personality disorder, statistically the odds are better than 50/50 that the other parent will have a personality disorder too.

I have a reputation for being willing to take on referrals of these very challenging parents. As challenging as the parents may be, somehow or other, many of them find support systems and even lawyers whose issues mirror their own. This can escalate conflict for all involved and increases the risk of the service provider being scapegoated and becoming a new target of blame in the family drama.

Good guidance seems to fall flat in these situations. Next you need good workers who have strong boundaries themselves, so as to avoid being inducted into the family drama and remain focused on the needs of the children even when positioned as the new target of blame.

The risks of working with these families is actually quite great for the service provider and includes public vilification, spurious claims of impropriety, internet complaints, complaints to licensing bodies and even lawsuits.

Why would anyone do this work?

Kind of like fishing… Many may get away, but occasionally our work really helps a child, even if only modestly.

That makes it all worthwhile.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

http://garydirenfeld.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/gary-feb-12.jpg?w=200&h=301

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
http://www.yoursocialworker.com

http://www.facebook.com/GaryDirenfeldSocialWorker
http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60758978&trk=tab_pro
https://twitter.com/socialtworker

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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