Co-Parenting sessions help families that are going through a separation or divorce. The goals are to improve communication and conflict resolution skills and develop a co-parenting plan for the future that is in the best interest of the child or children. Families may be mandated by a family court judge to attend these sessions, or they can go on their own accord.
When a marriage or partnership dissolves, kids must navigate the worlds of two single parents and their different styles, rules, and expectations. Divorce or separation can be detrimental for children and teens, and the negative effects can follow them into adulthood.
The good news is that divorce or separation doesn’t guarantee poor outcomes for kids or parents. When parents cooperate with each other to nurture their children, their kids adjust well and can thrive. This is no easy task, which is why taking co-parenting sessions can benefit you and your children.
what's the goal of co-parenting sessions?
While some parents transition easily, others find themselves struggling with conflict, miscommunication, or a total lack of communication. The goals of co-parenting sessions are to provide them with tools and skills to help improve communication, reduce conflict, and learn to work together to provide consistency and stability for their children. Families who participate in co-parenting sessions tend to experience less conflict, more positive feelings toward the ex-partner, and are more likely to resolve issues on their own instead of involving the court system.
What Can Co-parenting sessions Help With?
Co-parenting sessions can help with any issues involving the parents’ children. The facilitator can teach parents healthy communication and conflict resolution skills, such as how to express disagreement respectfully and work toward compromise. They can also highlight unhealthy communication patterns and identify ways to improve them.
The facilitator evaluates how parents communicate, identifies positive and negative aspects, and teaches skills to improve. For example, parents may learn how to manage their frustrations, keep the focus on the children, and use “I” statements rather than make accusations. They may also learn how to speak respectfully with one another through commonly used mediums like text message and email.
Focus On Communication
Focus On Conflict Resolution
Co-parenting sessions will help parents anticipate possible conflicts, such as custody arrangements on holidays and birthdays, and learn skills for resolving them. If a difference of opinion does occur, parents will be prepared to express how they feel respectfully and work toward a common resolution that is in the best interest of the child(ren).
Focus On Creating a Co-parenting Plan
Co-parenting sessions provide a supportive environment to develop a plan and anticipate potential obstacles. For example, parents will want to talk about how to navigate custody, medical appointments and decisions, and school functions. The facilitator might help them create a calendar for the upcoming year and discuss how holidays, birthdays, and other events will be handled.
What to expect on your first session
The first session is typically an evaluation where the facilitator will meet with each parent separately and ask them questions pertaining to the divorce, their child(ren), and their hopes and expectations for the future. They may ask about the parent's relationship, reasons for divorcing or separating, and typical approaches to parenting. This helps give the facilitator an idea of the family dynamics and what would be most helpful to focus on.
The facilitator will also discuss confidentiality and its limits. If you are mandated to attend by a judge, they will explain what information will be shared and what will be kept private. Certain information, like disclosing child abuse, may also require the facilitator to break confidentiality. They will also provide an opportunity for you to ask any questions and discuss the length, frequency, and goals of the co-parenting sessions.