October 9, 2013

Collaborative Divorce in the Age of Death Eaters and Dementors

Harry PotterWorking with children, I became a Harry Potter fan out of both necessity and real appreciation.   J.K. Rowlings’ world of wizards and magic is a fantasy, but the themes of these books are human and real. Among the most frightening characters in Rowlings’ epic struggles of power and control, good vs. evil, are the Death Eaters and the Dementors.

The Death Eaters are those in the wizard world who have made a pledge to support Lord Voldemort, whose vision of total domination rather than peaceful co-existence has been distorted by his hate and rage, and obsession with destroying Harry Potter.  The Dementors are the terrifying, soul-sucking wraiths who feed on fear. What a relief that Death Eaters and Dementors aren’t real and aren’t about us! But Rowlings has created a thought-provoking twist.

By the last book, Harry Potter has discovered that he and Lord Voldemort have much in common. Harry alone must determine whether he is capable of making the necessary sacrifice for the greater good of those who depend on him to be their champion. Harry must defeat the Death Eaters and Dementors by conquering his own fear and rage with selfless love. Harry is not perfect, he has made many mistakes and hurt the ones he cares about, but he has this gift within him waiting to be discovered at the time of ultimate crisis.

What I find compelling about the Harry Potter books is the mirror they hold to our world. In our humanity, we all find ourselves having to figure out how to resolve inevitable conflicts and manage strong negative emotions. Parents and children facing divorce are certainly living through an emotional crisis. The question is, do we let rage and fear drive and perhaps distort our actions, or do we seek another way, one that may ask us to sacrifice power and control for the greater good of those who depend on us to be their champions–our children.

Collaborative Team Practice is an alternative dispute resolution process using interest-based negotiation and problem solving to reach agreements and sustainable resolutions. On the team, allied and neutral professionals provide support and guidance to manage strong negative emotions, suggest creative and equitable financial resolutions, and negotiate safe, developmentally responsive parenting plans. It can be a highly effective way to help families transition respectfully during the crisis of a divorce.

We know Collaborative Team Practice may not be the right choice for all families.  However, it is a process that will work for many families. Our belief is that reaching agreements rather than perpetuating conflict is truly the way to be champions for children in the age of Death Eaters and Dementors.

Deborah ClemmensenABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deborah Clemmensen
Licensed Psychologist

Deborah Clemmensen, M.Eq., Licensed Psychologist was a child and family clinician for many years before her discovery of Collaborative Team Practice in 2000 motivated the transformation of her professional role from therapist to Neutral Child Specialist. This work---hearing the voices of every family member during a divorce or break up, keeping children at the center and out of the middle, and assisting parents in the creation of developmentally responsive parenting plans---is both a passion and a privilege. Find out more about Deborah's work at www.deborahclemmensen.com

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