Whilst attending family law mediation training in Los Angeles last week with Woody Mosten I learnt about a 21st Century electronic communication book replacement used by my Californian collegues called 'ourfamilywizard'! It may cost more than a school exercise book but the reviews indicate it will help do away with the torn out pages and lost book syndrome. Check it out at:http://www.ourfamilywizard.com/ofw/index.cfm/blog/healthy-communication-between-divorced-parents/
Parents often struggle with communication and it is no surprise that sharing important family information becomes even more difficult separation. There is often poor, combative communication with children having to serve as “messengers” between squabbling parents. This is both a cause and symptom of bad communication which in turn leads to more stress for everyone.
Unfortunately, most parents do not realize how harmful their arguments are to the children. Too often the effects of poor communication and unpleasant exchanges go unnoticed until after the damage is done. Well-meaning parents want to do what is best for their children but they are not experts at divorce and require guidance and assistance from professionals who can give them information and access to tools and resources that can help them.
OurFamilyWizard® is a tool which provides a bridge for the difficult moments that arise when children’s activities span two households. It allows parents to communicate in a manner that is thoughtful and reflective, rather than reactive. The OurFamilyWizard® parenting website was designed by divorced parents with the help of family law professionals as a tool for coordinating family schedules and sharing family information. The website acts as a conduit for parents to plan for holidays, keep track of shared expenses, and much more. It is also being utilized by courts as a way to eliminate the “he said, she said,” dilemma by making parents accountable and keeping children out of the crossfire. Unfortunately many family law practitioners encounter parents who engage in deceitful and destructive behaviour. Far too often the court is forced to decide who is telling the truth, or which version of the truth is closest to reality. The OurFamilyWizard® parenting website helps eliminate harmful game playing between parents by documenting every entry on the site. The time and author of an entry is shown on each page, and entries cannot be post dated. Each page is printable to provide evidence of what information was actually provided to the other parent on a given date.
The website has six sections – Shared Family Calendar, Message Board, Journal, Information Bank, Expense Log, and Resources – which can be used in any combination depending on the needs of each family.
While some families utilize all of the site’s life management tools, others benefit from using just one or two. The Shared Calendar provides basic calendaring functions, as well as many additional features such as colour coding, notice of conflicting events scheduled for the same child, trading of days to accommodate special circumstances and many other items designed to assist parents in coordinating the busy schedules of separate households.
The Message Board allows families to communicate directly with one another. Because it is not the same as email, users will never be distracted by non-family materials such as spam mail and advertisements. It also serves as a way to shield children from harmful materials that may be associated with email. The message board acts as the secure mailbox for the family.
The Information Bank is a place where family members can access the information maintained in several areas on the site. Information on everything from health histories to shoe sizes can be readily available to both households. The Information Bank also accommodates the online storage of important files. These files can be documents, pictures or anything else that may be needed by one or both parties.
The Journal functions as a virtual diary. Family members may maintain personal and/or shared Journals for their children. Parents can give each other detailed records of the children’s daily affairs in a non-intrusive manner. It is especially important because children no longer need to carry messages or notebooks between parent’s households.
The Expense Log allows parents to track the shared expenses of their children. Parents can set up expense types that will automatically calculate each parent’s share of an expense. Receipts can be uploaded and parents can review expenses and approve them before payment.
The Resource Section has information and links to family law professionals who use the OurFamilyWizard® parenting website, helpful books and articles, support groups, family friendly websites and online tools.
Please let me know if you use it whether it lives up to the promises made.