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Credibility and Likability: Your Two Main Assets

Many aspects of high conflict custody battles involve two competing narratives regarding why the children are resisting/rejecting one parent. The favored parent's narrative presents the rejection as being the fault of the rejected parent, who is portrayed as inadequate if not abusive. The targeted parent puts forth a very different explanation of the family dynamics, which presents the children as being manipulated by the favored parent. This "he said - she said" dynamic usually favors the favored parent in part becaue the targeted parent makes a bad impression on the various legal and mental health professionals involved with the family. Part of that bad impression is due to the targeted parent appearing to lack credibility. This could be because they are anxious and agitated, it could be because they make self-serving claims (including, "My greatest flaw is that I love my children too much."), or using extreme language (such as, "I was always there for my children"). When in doubt, the professionals will side with the more credible-seeming parent. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that many targeted parents come off as unlikable, so the professionals are less motivated to help. These targeted parents present as angry and defensive, and they appear to be more focused on pointing the finger at the other parent than in doing what is right for the children. Sometimes they talk about their own children in unkind ways (i.e., "My child is abusive."). In my coaching practice, I work with targeted parents to help them find ways to boost their credibility and likability in order to increase the likelihood that their perspective will be taken into account. Let's not make it so easy for the courts to favor the favored parent!

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