Co-parent counseling is for parents who are divorced, separated or never-married living apart but share custody and care of their child(ren). This is often a challenging situation; while your relationship with your child’s other parent may be over, the family is not. Co-parent counseling helps parents develop a new relationship focused on what’s best for their child(ren).
While some couples can separate with a minimum of conflict or may even be friends, most parents find themselves struggling to separate personal and parenting relationships and feelings. This is where co-parent counseling can help.
What happens in co-parent counseling?
Co-parent counseling focuses on three things:
- Providing ways to help co-parents approach each other differently. This allows parents to communicate and resolve conflicts more effectively. Improving communication is a critical part of successful co-parenting.
- Providing parents with an understanding of “best practices” in co-parenting
- Addressing outstanding issues whether scheduling, school or behavioral concerns.
It can be hard to put aside the past, especially when hurts feel very fresh. However, in learning new ways to understand and work past conflict can also be a way to begin the healing process that will allow both you and your former partner to move forward in a new way that allows you to:
- Put kids needs first
- Recognize the importance of parental bonds with both parents
- Foster sensitivity to your child’s needs and feelings
- Understand what your child may be expressing through behavior
- Keep discussions focused on parenting rather than personal/marital issues
- Foster healing
Some reasons to seek co-parent counseling:
You and your child’s other parent:
- Want to work on communicating more effectively and with less conflict
- Struggle to jointly agree upon rules and standards for your child
- Aren’t on the same page – even in a general way – regarding expectations, values and goals for your child
- Struggle to identify, talk about and find compromise on issues where you differ
- Are unable or unwilling to discuss your differences
- Find it difficult to talk with the other parent without becoming upset or frustrated
- Parent as you think best, rather than working through disagreements even if doing so creates an inconsistent, confusing environment for your child
Why is co-parenting important?
Co-parenting is about continuing to parent as a team, keeping each other informed of important information, agreeing to generally consistent rules and guidelines around issues like homework, bedtimes, video games and media and expectations for behavior and making important decisions together.
Children benefit from having the support of both parents. Breaking up with or divorcing a partner or spouse doesn’t mean you’re divorcing the kids who still need and want the love and support of both their parents. Benefits for children and teens whose parents work to establish a positive co-parenting relationship:
- Are more likely to feel safe and secure. They are less likely to act out and often are able to transition with fewer negative impacts on friendships, school and home life.
- Are less likely to feel they must choose between parents.
- Benefit from consistency between their two homes. It’s hard enough to remember one set of rules, much less two. When parents can work together to set similar rules and routines, kids know what to expect and it reduces the potential for arguments that begin with, “But at Mom’s (or Dad’s) house….”
- Gain a greater understanding of how to problem-solve and work diplomatically in difficult situations. Parents who are able to do this are great role models for how to develop a healthy relationship.
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