Colleen O’Neil on Mediating Parenting Disputes

Watch a compelling personal story of divorce and redemption through mediation by a renowned family counselor.

Colleen O’Neil, MSW, M.Ed. is a trained educator, social worker, therapist, mediator and divorce coach. She has successfully implemented solutions for difficult post-divorce issues, most recently through her private practice in Westport, CT.

Facebooktwittermailby feather

Dividends from Involved Dads – Benefits from Shared Parenting of Babies

The Economist, a highly respected weekly news magazine reports that “Chaildren whose fathers take even short spells of paternity leave do better (May 16th, 2015, p 54).” The Economist article covers parental leave policies – and the trend towards parental leave for both parents – in 185 countries. Nearly half these countries now offer new fathers short periods at home. Unfortunately, the US has one of the least accommodating policies, covering only a subset of women, and no men, with unpaid leave.

Why encourage both parents to spend time with their new baby? One reason is that women will then face less discrimination in hiring, since they will be able to return to work more quickly after giving birth. Their skills will not suffer from extended absence from the workforce, so their lifetime earnings improve. Secondly, dads who took time off are more likely to pitch in on basic child care like changing diapers, feeding, bathing and playing.

The patterns established early in the baby’s life persisted into childhood. The data suggest that school children with two involved parents benefit with better grades, lower truancy and fewer behavioral problems.Facebooktwittermailby feather

Even Abused Foster Children Do Not Reject a Parent

By Linda J. Gottlieb Kase, LMFT, LCSW-r

March 18, 2015

Research Observation:

Despite the abuse and neglect suffered by the 3000 foster care children who had been under my care, it was extremely uncommon for those children to refuse contact with a parent—even with an overtly abusive parent. Rather, abused children tend to protect and cling to the abusive parent. Moreover, in the rare cases in which that did appear to happen, there was always some evidence of indoctrination or programming (typically by foster parents who had the surreptitious goal of adopting the child).  Thus, it is counter-instinctual for a child to reject a parent—even an abusive parent.  When a professional observes a child strongly reject a parent in the absence of verified abuse, neglect or markedly deficient parenting skills—which should never be assumed based on the child’s self-reporting—one of the first thoughts should be that the other parent is an alienator.  Moreover, one should never assume that, because a child has rejected a parent, the parent must have done something to warrant it.

Having observed thousands of genuinely-abused children during a period of 24 years, I have concluded that a child’s innate desire to have a relationship with his or her parents is one of the most powerful of human instincts, surpassed only by the instinct for survival and the instinct to protect ones young; among normal children, in the absence of an alienating influence, that instinct is seldom suppressed because a parent exhibits relatively minor flaws, deficiencies, or idiosyncrasies.

Facebooktwittermailby feather

Child Support Guidelines should recognize shared parenting. Testify to improve the lives of children in Connecticut.

Hearings on 9/17 and 9/24. See below for details.
Suggested testimony: child support guidelines should recognize shared parenting
• Tell your own story, or the story of those you know, about a noncustodial (also known as “nonresidential” or not “primary residence”) parent who was made a second class parent, a visitor with his or her own children, or was unable to maintain a home for overnights.
o Try to weave the points below into your story.
• Everyone wants to adequately support their children.
o Do not recommend any reduction in total support for children. (The reason: CT’s support amounts are at or below those in surrounding states and about average for the nation.)
o Children need active involvement of both parents.
o Parental Responsibility Plans (PRP’s), currently required in CT, emphasize active involvement by parents. Child Support Guidelines need to catch up and encourage shared parenting.
• Shared parenting should be recognized by allocating child support between the two parents appropriately.
o Both parents need to maintain adequate residences for the children.
o Two nights per week is substantial involvement requiring maintenance of a home for the children.
• Massachusetts adopted new Child Support Guidelines effective 8/01/13
o Recommend that we adopt MA Guidelines for two shared parenting situations: 1. substantially equal time or 2. substantial (2 or more nights per week) but unequal time.
How and where do you submit written testimony?
By email:
Please copy NPO on your submission:

When and where do you testify?
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
New Haven District Office
50 Humphrey Street
New Haven, CT

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
Norwich District Office
401 West Thames Street, Unit 102
Norwich, CT

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
Waterbury District Office
249 Thomaston Avenue
Waterbury CT.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
6:00-8:00 PM
Department of Social Services
925 Housatonic Avenue
Bridgeport, CT

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
2:00-4:00 PM
Department of Social Services
Central Office
Mezzanine 2AB
25 Sigourney Street
Hartford, CT

How much time will you have to testify, and how do you sign up?
Expect 2-3 minutes for your testimony.
Arrive about 15 minutes early in case there is a sign up.
Facebooktwittermailby feather