Family law is known for its highly stressful, emotionally charged and often toxic human dramas that unfold. Indeed, it is an arena often fraught with hostile feelings and difficult behaviors.
And yet, in the midst of the drama, there are often children. Issues such as custody, scheduling and visitation rights often become frenzied and out of control, and the focus of much litigation. Despite the difficulties, parties must discover an approach which best help to implement scheduling, planning for holidays, school events and other child-centered activities. As such, this requires taking into consideration the best interests of the children and deciding how to best implement those interests; hopefully realized in the best schedule possible. Ideally, these decisions will be based not on the contentious feelings of the parties, but on their reasoning.
Individuals that are best able to navigate the task of responsibly constructing their children’s scheduling, despite a highly charged emotional atmosphere, are those who are able to: 1) discriminate between angry feelings and doing the next right thing for the child; 2) cope effectively with difficult emotions; 3) act rather than react and 4) determine ahead of time to do what’s right despite however emotionally charged the person may feel. The ability to make a decision based on what’s real, true and good, rather than taking action based on one’s emotional state is sometimes referred to as “emotional control”.
Emotional control and the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) could be deemed crucial to the parties involved and to taking effective approaches to issues such as family schedules and visitation time. Central to EI is knowledge of one’s emotions, self-awareness and the ability to manage emotions. Crucial to hope for parents going through the roller coaster of reasoning out schedules and visitation is the fact that EI is seen as a set of teachable skills and abilities. EI and one’s ability to take the next right step can be increased by learning new and better ways to understand emotions and how to use emotions and manage them effectively.
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