Being a parent does not by default make you a “good” parent; nor does it singularly qualify you for the difficult task of working with families in conflict. It can, however, enhance your professional abilities.
Like so many things in our personal lives and professions there is no easy answer to this question. To me it is not a yes or no question; not a black and white issue. I believe personal experiences of any sort add breadth to one’s perspectives and ability to understand another person’s situation or perspective. We all have many and varied experiences; each experience helps define who we are, what we believe, how we act, and how we interpret our world. While I can imagine that the death a child or spouse would be devastating, because I have not experienced such a tragedy (and pray I never do) I cannot fully comprehend all the emotions, challenges, and other realities that stem from such an experience.
Being a wife, divorcee, parent, step-parent, former full-time mom, and now working mother are all significant life experiences. While I do not believe you must have these experiences to be a good family law attorney, mediator or parenting specialist, I do believe that my experiences contribute to my success and effectiveness as a family mediator and parenting specialist. Although my journey through these experiences is uniquely my own, there are many common threads in divorce and separate parenting. Having lived through most of them gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation of my client’s situations and perspectives. The fact that I have walked a similar path gives me “real-life credibility” which in turn solidifies my educational and professional credibility. As a consumer of divorce mediation and parenting services I valued this type of expertise and sought it out in the professionals I hired. My clients report the same.
Would I fail as a mediator/parenting specialist without these personal experiences? I believe the answer is, “no.” Each professional is unique in their skill set and having personal experience by itself does not mean “more skilled.”