Some conflict between parents in the lead up to, and immediately following, separation is normal and probably unavoidable. Research shows children of parents who can demonstrate managed emotions, moderate behaviour and flexible thinking towards each other are less likely to suffer long-term harm. Children who see and experience warmth, co-operation and respect from both sides, have significantly better outcomes in education, future relationships and mental health.
Most of us are aware of this, but when emotional resources are depleted by shock, sadness, anger or stress, we sometimes fall back on unhelpful conflict habits, perhaps learned in childhood or developed more recently during difficult times as a couple.
Who is This For?
The Parenting Co-Ordination process is used extensively in the US, Canada and South Africa and is designed for those who know they need to get on better for the sake of their children, but are finding it a struggle. Anyone who’s ever tried to kick a habit, is aware that knowing certain behaviour patterns are unhealthy, problematic or irrational may not be enough to change. Studies show, whilst a decision to change is an essential first step, ongoing support, communication and education are vital elements in bringing that about. Parenting Co-Ordination has been designed to help develop and practice good Co-Parenting habits by providing the ongoing support, education and opportunities to practice communication in a safe and managed environment, until both parents have overcome their conflict habit.
This may be suitable for you if:
- You already have a Court order or mediated plan setting out parenting arrangements, but have had difficulty co-operating or communicating as parents in a constructive, blame-free and respectful way.
- You both recognise the potential benefits if you are able to respond positively to each other and maintain moderate and appropriate behaviours with your children and with anyone else who is part of their lives and feel that additional support will help you both achieve this.
What is Involved?
The process begins with an initial free fifteen-minute phone discussion with each parent, to ensure issues can be covered by the PC process, and basic suitability criteria are met.
You are then invited to attend an assessment meeting to discuss what help you’re seeking, at which time the role of the Parent Co-ordinator and confidentiality rules are explained. If PC appears to be suitable and both parties are willing, a joint pre-Parent Co-ordination meeting is scheduled to agree areas of work, and time frame.
If you Google how long does it take to change a habit? you’ll find different estimates, but the understanding is change never happens overnight. Working with a PC requires personal and financial commitment from both parents and involves a series of joint and individual meetings in person or, if appropriate, online over 12 – 24 months. During this time, telephone and email support is provided between meetings as needed.
During the process you are given an opportunity to build and practice appropriate communication and negotiation skills. The PC’s role is to help you recognise triggers for conflict, help you develop personal strategies for dealing with feelings and concerns and identify potential sources of further information and help.
In appropriate circumstances a PC can assist parents who are struggling to interpret how their Order or Parenting Plan should be implemented with a direction or decision. However a PC does not make major decisions, that should properly be made by a Judge or Family Arbitrator. A decision from a PC should always be viewed as a last resort, since the goal of the work is for you to assume responsibility for making decisions together, in ways which work best for your children.
If all of this sounds as if it might be beyond your needs or resources right now, you might prefer to try some of the Parenting Apart Resources or book a Family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting to discuss whether shorter processes such as Mediation or a Conflict Coaching may help.