the tubeMore and more people are drastically changing the course of their careers. Muriël Bosgra (44) saw as a child protection investigator how children got into trouble during divorces. As a mediator and children’s advocate, she now tries to prevent such situations.
When Muriël Bosgra from Zwolle dived into a divorce case as a child protection adviser, things had often already gotten quite out of hand. Divorce releases a lot of emotions. Ex-partners feel wronged by the other and try to compensate. Children take the lead and I look at how we can de-escalate the situation. In troubling cases, I increasingly thought: how could this have been prevented?” That’s how the idea of becoming an independent mediator came about. “Entrepreneurship has always been in me. I considered interior design, but I really wanted to be meaningful to people.”
Divorce releases many emotions. Ex-partners feel wronged by the other and try to compensate
It was during her mediation training that she inadvertently became an expert by experience. She herself ended up in a divorce and had to make arrangements for their sons, who were then 5 and 8 years old. “It was quite difficult at times. Because of this experience, I know the pitfalls and look with empathy and gentleness on couples struggling with a divorce. So you won’t hear me use the term confrontational divorce. It sounds too accusatory to me, and there is no hope.”
In order to be able to balance the child’s interests properly in a divorce, Bosgra believes that it is important to talk to them yourself. “Children are very loyal and do not want to hurt their parents. To find out what they really want, I talk to them privately, I try to filter their words and also hear what is not being said.”
She has such conversations with children from the age of 5, based on a poster with both parents’ houses. For each house, they can fill in their likes and dislikes and what wishes they have. “If a child wants to be more with one parent, it can be painful for the other parent and feel like a competition. “Am I not cute enough?” I have also experienced myself that my son got on his bike after an argument and went to his father. Not a problem in itself, and you shouldn’t want to prevent everything. As long as you reconnect afterwards.”
In addition to the individual talks, in January she will start De Dappere Dino’s: A group program for children aged 6 to 8 years. “The support of peers who are going through the same thing helps them deal with the stress of a divorce.”
Bosgra feels that many parents feel pressured to live up to the ideal of collaborative parenting: drinking coffee together, standing together on the sports field and celebrating birthdays together. “Fantastic if it works out, but I also often hear from children that they prefer not to have both parents with them to their musical performance, because it only creates tension. Social workers want the parents to sit around the table to make agreements, but this often only leads to more trouble. The conflict is then more harmful than the situation the fight is about.”
The conflict is sometimes more harmful than the situation the fight is about
Bosgra therefore founded the Institute for Parallel Solo Parenting with a few kindred spirits. “To create peace, we build an imaginary wall between the parents. As a result, the focus shifts from the conflict between the parents to the relationship between parent and child. The emphasis is no longer on being parents together, but on being parents together. By accepting that the other parent does things differently and by making compromises, there is little to coordinate. It gives parents and children peace of mind.”
She also tries to offer tranquility at the reception of her Klein & Groot Mediation, in a mansion in the center of Zwolle. “I have arranged it as homely as possible, so that parents and children can relax here.”
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