Steven Nisenbaum, Ph.D., J.D.


The Family Healthy Choices Approach to Family Matters and Conflict Resolution

Dr. Nisenbaum founded Family Healthy Choices (FHC) recognizing that everyone has a story that deserves to be told and respected, and a commitment to help individuals and families build skills in conflict resolution to promote healthful choices that will enhance well-being and optimal functioning.  This is often best achieved by facilitating choices by family members themselves, and the FHC approach is intended to reflect our perspective that enhanced resilience often follows from these intentions and behaviors:

  1.  Generally, children do best when they receive reliable and supportive parenting and caretaking, even when their parents are living apart.
  2. Generally, children do best when both parents have a stable and meaningful involvement in their lives.
  3. Generally, children’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem are developed in substantial part through their relationships with the parental and caretaking persons.
  4. Generally, each parent or caretaker is a role model and each brings their own unique styles to their role, and children tend to imitate and learn from their parents and caretakers, so often children can benefit from many and all styles and combinations of these role models.
  5. Unless it is believed to be detrimental to a child, it will likely be best to support frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact between each child and each parent.
  6. Unless it is believed to be detrimental to a child or there is an over-riding safety and security concern, to the extent practical, parents should be encouraged to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children even after the parents have separated.
  7. Where possible, unless there is evidence of domestic violence or child abuse/neglect or other safety and security concerns or practical limitations, parents should be encouraged to mutually develop their own parenting plan either on their own or with the assistance of professionals.
  8. Parents should generally be granted wide discretion to develop a mutually agreeable parenting plan that serves what they jointly determine to be the best interests of their children.
  9. Parents should strive to that avoid or minimize conflict that can be destructive, unproductive and depleting.
  10.  Mutual respect shown among family members in their conduct, interactions, communications, and reliability are likely to promote healthful outcomes and resilience.

(credit in part to Mark Nickerson, Elizabeth Miller Austin, Deborah Roth-Howe,  For the Children Curriculum Manual)