The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Hush debuted just about 21 years ago. Slate magazine reminded me about the episode and upcoming anniversary yesterday. I'm a huge fan of the episode because it still gives me the hee-bee jee-bees. If you've not seen it, it's worth the 48 minutes or so. In Hush, the bad guys, called The Gentlemen, come to Buffy's town of Sunnydale to steal still-beating hearts from unsuspecting victims. The victims cannot scream because the entire town's voices are stolen to allow The Gentlemen to be undiscovered. Buffy, with the help of the Scooby Gang, learn to communicate without words to defeat the gentleman and regain their voices.
Slate's article addressed the question of communication, the episode's central focus. The article focused on verbal communication's importance. The show emphasized non-verbal communication. Both the article and the show remind me that face-to-face, verbal and non-verbal communication are part of successfully getting through a challenging experience. Of course, divorce and post-divorce communication are challenging. Learning to successfully communicate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, especially about ongoing child custody issues, is key to success. As a Collaborative Divorce professional, I know that the Collaborative Team is key to this success.
Divorce is emotionally stressful, and stress inhibits effective communication (especially when contact with a spouse may have led to the breakdown of the marriage.) In custodial disputes, the stress undermines the parents' ability to engage in dialogue about their needs and the children's needs. Responses are driven by emotion. Neither side effectively hears the other. The voices might as well be stolen.
But, the Collaborative Team, much like the Scooby Gang from Buffy, can help the parents understand the feelings, work through the emotions, and communicate effectively to resolve the Divorce. Hopefully, the team will also give the parents the ability to continue to communicate effectively as the needs and interests of the child change.
The Collaborative Divorce Team, which includes the Divorce Coach, attorneys, and the parents, meets together. During the meetings, the Coach and the attorneys help the clients identify their primary interests. The team helps the clients talk to each other about why these interests are important. Each parent and the team member can see the non-verbal responses to statements – allowing unsaid interests to be addressed. The Coach and the attorneys also help the clients understand the children's current and ever-changing interests. Collaborative Divorce is a forward-thinking process. The child's needs and interests will change. Hopefully, the Collaborative Divorce team can help the parents learn to communicate effectively as those changes occur.
The Collaborative Divorce team is like Buffy's Scooby Gang. The team helps the parents read each other's non-verbal cues during the team meeting and learn to verbally communicate with each other while trying to parent their child. Objective communication is key to success for a divorced family. The family should rely on their own Scooby Gang to have success in the future.