Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott
I’m having chicken noodle soup for breakfast—because I choose to. It’s probably not what most people are opting for this morning, and it certainly would turn a few heads if I ordered it at the local diner but I’m going with my gut here and answering my hankering for a bowl of comfort on this rainy, Seattle morning.
I didn’t feel the need to consult anyone about my choice today but the mental process I went through to heat up the good stuff made me wonder why the decision to buck the norm took so much time and seemed, well, a little radical. I remembered a recent item from the Internet that covered the idea of choices and how our preferences are often influenced by the preferences of others. We have a multi-cultural society and yet when it comes to what to have for breakfast we often limit ourselves to choices like eggs, cereal, and pastries. Most people would call that standard breakfast fare.
And, speaking of standard, many of my mediation clients ask me what’s standard or want me to tell them what most people do when faced with choices like the ones they’re about to make. What’s standard has become an artificial choice for many. When couples are building parenting plans the standard protocol seems to be that Mom becomes residential parent, the kids see Dad every other weekend and on Wednesday evenings, and then the two adults cannibalize holidays making the kids go back and forth for meals, events, and gifts. Turns out, this standard arrangement doesn’t really work for a lot of families.
My clients may not know in the beginning that standard isn’t going to work for them, so I suppose it’s as good a place as any to start. What would be nice, though, is after they’ve tried standard on for a while they could admit to one another that standard doesn’t fit the bill and maturely go back to the drawing board to create something that fits them like a glove. I’m not sure how to make that way of approaching agreements a standard approach, though. I’m just having one of my standard early-morning, single-participant brainstorming sessions. I’ll have to noodle on that for a while.