My co-parenting relationship isn’t working. Would co-parenting counseling help?
It just might, and congrats to you for the effort. Today, we’ll go through what co-parenting counseling is, who it is for, as well as what you can expect from it. By the end of this post, you should know whether co-parenting counseling is what you’re looking for.
Before we delve deeper into the matter, it’s important to say that you’re not the only one - sometimes, co-parenting just isn’t working. Your ex might be holding a grudge, or they may be toxic for a variety of reasons.
However, one thing is for sure: to have a successful post-divorce co-parenting relationship, co-parents have to work through their negative feelings, put them aside and be truly ready to put their children first.
Is this something co-parenting counseling could help with? Yes! But, it’s only one of the many areas of a dysfunctional co-parenting relationship where counseling would serve a great purpose.
Let’s talk about it.
What is Co-Parenting Counseling?
Co-parenting counseling or co-parenting therapy is designed to help co-parents work through their feelings, work on their communication and reduce conflict, as well as learn about effective co-parenting strategies from an expert, so that they are able to provide a stable, loving environment for their children with both parents present.
Co-parenting counseling can be court-ordered or set up through mutual agreement while the number of sessions, and the exact set up of the sessions (whether in pair or individual) will depend on the specific case, and all at the discretion of the counselor and co-parents.
It may seem similar to marriage counseling, but it could, in fact, be regarded as the opposite.
While marriage counseling mostly deals with the events of the past and present, co-parenting counseling will dwell on the present and future and will focus on the children.
Now, it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, especially when it comes to topics as complex as this one. How do you know if co-parenting counseling is right for you?
Who is Co-Parenting Counseling for?
Everyone could learn something from co-parenting counseling, but it will be the most effective if you’re experiencing one of the following issues in your co-parenting relationship.
1. Conflict between co-parents
One of the biggest issues in co-parenting relationships is conflict caused by the mutual history between the co-parents. Co-parents could still be holding grudges, and let their actions be informed by their negative feelings, and that’s where co-parenting counseling fits in.
To avoid inflicting further stress on your child, as well as to take care of your own mental health, co-parenting counseling can help you learn how to move on from the past, put your issues aside, and instead focus on the wellbeing of your child.
Conflict resolution in co-parenting counseling will help you set boundaries and learn about various strategies that you can both deploy in your co-parenting relationship to mitigate any risks of conflict. This will also be a very useful skill to pass on to your child.
2. Ineffective communication between co-parents
Communication is key for a successful co-parenting relationship.
When co-parents act without thinking, and when they let their emotions communicate for them, what they communicate usually ends up being very counterproductive.
A co-parenting counsellor can help co-parents learn communication strategies that allow them to communicate clearly, to express their emotions in a mature, non-offensive way, and even to set up the everyday things such as scheduling of each one’s co-parenting time, exchanging child-related information and solving any issues that might pop up.
3. You’re new to co-parenting, and have no idea where to start
Co-parenting isn’t easy, especially if you’ve had a particularly messy divorce. However, with effective co-parenting strategies, you’ll get a hang of it quickly.
These strategies will include both the higher-level rules such as never badmouth the other parent in front of your children, and the everyday tips such as arranging pick-up and drop off, planning, attending school events together, etc.
What Can You Expect from Co-Parenting Counseling?
Co-parenting counseling helps parents focus on their child by working through or putting aside their emotional baggage. The counselor is there to help them overcome these issues, and set up the relationship for success by teaching co-parents the techniques and strategies needed to manage their emotions, improve their communication and avoid conflict.
Communication strategies to reduce conflict
With some help, you’ll easily learn the effective strategies that can be used in communication to avoid and reduce conflict, starting with setting the boundaries.
It’s important that you and your co-parent are both aware and agree with the topics that are on the table. Anything that doesn’t directly relate to your child shouldn’t be up for discussion, unless you both agree to it, that is.
A counselor will be able to assess the current state of your specific relationship, and propose and teach the appropriate strategies accordingly.
Decision-making infused with compromise
Reaching decisions is hard even when you’re in marriage, let alone in a co-parenting relationship. However, the key here is listening to what the other party has to say.
A counselor will help teach you to truly listen to the other co-parent and understand their position on certain matters instead of simply voicing your opinion until the two of you can reach a peaceful, informed agreement.
Setting consistent co-parenting rules to help children transition between homes
Children need structure, and a co-parenting counselor can help set a basic set of rules so that you ensure that your child knows what’s expected from them and can focus on what’s important. Agree on the core values, synchronize the systems of punishments and rewards, and your child will thank you in about twenty years.
Without this, the children will be going from one set of basic principles in one house, to the other that expects of them the complete opposite. This can cause confusion, ultimately stressing out the child.
Integrating new romantic partners into the co-parenting family and similar life transitions
After the divorce, co-parents should be tactical and understanding of their children’s feelings with other big life transitions such as a sudden wealth disparity or introducing new romantic partners.
One of the families could find themselves in a better, more favorable financial situation that could result in expensive toys, expensive clothes, and the newest phone. Similarly, there will come a time when co-parents are ready to introduce new romantic partners.
A co-parenting counselor will be of great help with providing advice and direction in cases like this so that the environment the child grows up in remains stable.
Ultimately, when co-parenting isn’t working, co-parenting counseling could very well be what saves the family. If you can relate to the issue outlined above, we recommend that you try it out.
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