© 2011 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
After working with divorcing families for over 30 years, first as a social worker and then as a family law attorney, I believe the following myths are stronger than ever. The first list is what some professionals think. The second list is what some parents think. Make sure to read both lists, then let me know if there are any you don’t understand or want explained further. You can see how these myths trigger defensiveness and increase conflict – yet they continue to exist.
10 Myths about High Conflict Parents (by some Family Law Professionals):
1. They’re not very smart.
2. They don’t care about their children.
3. If one parent is high conflict, then the other must be too.
4. Public lectures and shaming will motivate them to use good parenting behavior.
5. Allegations of abuse are always false and a manipulation to get control.
6. Allegations of alienation are always false and a smoke screen for true abuse.
7. If you just ignore high-conflict parents, their children will do just fine as adults.
8. Children’s preferences are not influenced by either parent in high-conflict families.
9. They all have personality disorders and nothing will reach them.
10. They’re both lying anyway, so you shouldn’t listen to anything they say.
10 Myths about Family Law Professionals (by some Divorcing Parents):
1. Professionals should agree with me and give me whatever I want.
2. The judge will immediately see through the other party, even though it took me many years.
3. Criticizing or yelling at my professional will motivate him or her to listen and work harder.
4. They all want to increase the conflict so they can just make more money.
5. They’re all arrogant and none can be trusted.
6. The entire family law system is corrupt and many professionals are taking bribes.
7. Administrative actions against professionals are always valid, but fail because of corruption.
8. Public exposure and blame will motivate them to use good professional behavior.
9. They’re not very smart.
10. They don’t care about the children.
Some of these may be true in a rare case, but in many (most?) cases they are not true. Yet these myths continue and are just making things worse. We need to check our own thinking and avoid splitting people into all-good and all-bad. Let’s treat everyone with respect and make no assumptions, so we can work on accurately understanding each families’ specific problems. What do you think?
Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.