An important lesson for coParents is to do everything you can to minimize conflict and maximize both your and your coParent’s involvement in your children’s lives.

In her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Dr. Brené Brown says: who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting… [W]hat we learn about ourselves and how we learn to engage with the world as children sets a course that either will require us to spend a significant part of our life fighting to reclaim our self-worth or will give us hope, courage, and resilience for our journey.

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There’s no question that our behavior, thinking, and emotions are hardwired within us and influenced by our environment. When it comes to our sense of love, belonging, and worthiness, we are most radically shaped by our families of origin — what we hear, what we are told, and perhaps most importantly, how we observe our parents engaging with the world. As Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, “What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.”

Children learn about relationships and many other aspects of life from their parents. Among other things, parents teach their children how to deal with adversity, change, disappointment; children learn from their parents how to handle conflict and solve problems. When children have a strong and engaged relationship with both parents, they feel secure. When children are more secure, they adjust better and recover faster from the adverse effects of divorce.

In The Co-Parent’s Handbook, Karen Bonnell and Kristin Little capture this point perfectly: “You are one of your children’s most valuable and beloved teachers about so many aspects of life. This includes how to face adversity, change, disappointment, and emerge healthy, happy and whole… Children want to love and be loved by both parents freely, without guilt or shame.”

“Parents should do everything they can to make decisions during the divorce process which are intended to enhance the quality of life for their children rather than trying to punish the other parent.” – Dr. Stephen Ross 


About Mark Baer & Jeremy Kossen

Mark BaerMark Baer is a lawyer, mediator and conflict resolution consultant. He has decades of experience in family law and has crafted a reputation within the industry for his psychologically-minded and child-centered approach.

Mark is also a well-known writer and columnist for a number of publications on the interplay between psychology and conflict resolution within the field of family law, as well as familial and interpersonal relationships in general. He has had a regular “Psychology and Family Law” column in the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association’s award-winning bimonthly newsletter since 2008. A member of Psychology Today’s expert community, Mark also has a blog column titled “Empathy and Relationships: Fostering Genuine Open-Mindedness.” He is also a HuffPost Blogger and a number of those blog articles have been referenced in books, law review articles, by evidence-based public policy think tanks, and elsewhere. Mark has written extensively for a number of other publications, as well. His material has been used and shared by law school professors, and by some of the highest ranked dispute resolution organizations in the country, such as the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law and the Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law School.

He has also presented on several occasions at the California Psychological Association Convention, the American Bar Association Section of Family Law CLE Conference, and the Southern California Mediation Association Conference, among other such organizations.