How to get parents on the same page – Even in the middle of divorce
Divorce can be tough on everyone. Parents, children, families, attorneys, employers, and mediators. As two trained mediators and collaboratively trained neutrals, we are passionate about changing the landscape of how conflict during the divorce process can negatively affect parents and their children’s well-being. We have created a resource – Parent Team -to help parents get on the same page when it comes to parenting from two homes.
Focus on the parents – Putting their well-being and mental health first
When the well-being and mental health of each parent is prioritized, they are better equipped to manage the life decisions and legal agreements they need to navigate during divorce. Additionally, they are more equipped to help manage their children's big emotions and the challenges that come with the adjustment and transitions that occur during divorce. Our online co-parenting course incorporates evidence-based strategies to help parents build skills that will allow them to parent from a team approach, rather than a competitive or conflict framework.
What does the research say about the importance of our work?
The ACE’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences) ACE’s study, is one of the largest studies about traumatic events in the lives of children ages 0-17. This study identifies three types of risk factors for trauma in children: abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. Divorce is identified in the ACE’s study as one of these risk factors. The study suggests that risk factors are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use issues in adulthood. These risk factors also have a negative impact on education, employment and earning potential in adulthood. Like we said above: divorce is hard on everyone, and especially children.
But there is some good news. In addition to risk factors that occur during divorce, the ACE'S Study also identified protective factors and preventative measures that help children reach their full potential. Sustaining safe, stable, and nurturing relationships in healthy environments is part of these protective factors for children and families . Parental resilience, teaching parent skills, and focused strategies aimed at the family relationship are all protective factors as identified through the ACE’s study. Our Parenting from Two Homes course is designed to teach these preventative measures by focusing on parental resilience, improving parent skills, and offers strategies to strengthen the family relationship across two homes.
What does the course look like?
Parent Team created the online Co-parenting Course as a practical and hands-on experience with lifetime access to six modules which are two and a half hours in duration. The content covers six core concepts: Parent Preparation, Telling your Children about Divorce, Setting up Two Homes, The New Normal, Boundaries, and Conflict Resolution Skills. Each module has a parenting section and a finance section. Parents can download their workbook and worksheets to work on as they simultaneously watch the short videos in each module. The website also includes a lot of free resources for parents to access, such as a free downloadable guide to answering kids' tough questions about divorce and a variety of educational blogs – all accessible at Parent Team.
What part can mediators play?
As mediators, we have a profound ability to help set a family up for success post-divorce. By utilizing the right tools and resources, we have the ability to minimize negative consequences for families and the harmful impact that divorce can have on generations. Children are often put in the middle of parental conflict during divorce because parents don't know how to navigate divorce. As mediators, we have the ability to guide and support families during one of the most difficult and vulnerable chapters of their lives. By guiding them with practical, evidence-based support, and by encouraging them to participate in supportive services, parents can better engage in the mediation process and fulfill their parenting duties.
The tools parents learn from the Parent Team course will teach them practical skills in how to stop putting their children in the middle of parental conflict.
Is it imperative that both parents complete the course to be effective? Not necessarily. Research from the Journal of Child and Family Studies shows that it is best when both parents access the same tools and support systems. However, even when just one parent is able to provide a stable, safe, consistent, predictable relationship and environment for their children, children benefit. If only one parent takes the online course, there are direct benefits for their children.
As an added benefit for parents: when one parent signs up for our course, we provide them a 2nd login for free. That way, their co-parent is able to access the course. We do this in order to eliminate one of the hurdles for both parents to get on the same page by accessing the same helpful information. To date – we have had a 70% participation rate for the second parent.
Why does this information matter for me as a mediator?
As a mediator, our hope is that you will use our course as a supplement to the work you do with couples. We believe that Parenting From Two Homes could help make your work more comprehensive and successful. When parents choose to engage with the content in our course, we believe they will be in a more clear and calm mental and emotional space. Our hope is that after our course, parents will be better equipped to navigate the important decisions that need to be made during mediation. Some local mediators in our community are implementing our course as prep-work for their clients, with the goal of having them enter the process prepared and engaged. If this is of interest to you and you believe your clients would benefit from this resource feel free to check out our website www.parentteam.com or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We know the professionals who support parents during the divorce process are doing their best with the resources they have – our goal is to help equip these professionals with a new set of tools. We strive to work alongside our colleagues and mediators in helping families by teaching them protective factors and preventative measures to lessen the harmful impacts divorce can have on children and families.
Perrier, R., Bernier, A., Dirks, M. et al. Longitudinal Linkages Between Coparenting and Subsequent Friendship Quality in Middle Childhood. J Child Fam Stud 29, 3091–3102 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-020-01821-2
In my What makes a Supermed? post last year I mentioned 3 worthwhile articles. Two of them - The Secrets of Successful Mediators (Negotiation Journal, July 2005) and The Secrets...By Geoff Sharp