Couples who have high-conflict divorces often have trouble co-parenting their children. If you’re in this situation, you’re not alone. You know that it’s not healthy for children when their parents are still battling or refusing to speak to one another. However, how are you supposed to communicate – let alone co-parent – with someone you find insufferable or who cheated on you or lied to you?
Divorced parents can often benefit from co-parenting therapy. Sometimes it’s ordered by a judge who believes it’s necessary for the children’s well-being. Some couples decide on their own that this is their only option if they want to share custody.
Co-parenting therapy isn’t about rehashing your marriage and each other’s shortcomings. On the contrary, it’s focused on learning to put the past behind you so that you can both be the best possible parents.
However you got to this point and no matter how you feel about the prospect of sitting in a room for an hour a week with your ex or soon-to-be ex, it’s important to make the most of it for the sake of your children and your relationship with them.
Every situation is different, of course, but there are typically three primary goals for co-parenting therapy. Let’s look at those.
It’s easy to stay in old patterns. You each know how to push the other one’s buttons. A therapist can help you clearly and effectively communicate, keep your focus on the kids and avoid rehashing the past.
Learn conflict resolution skills
By learning to communicate clearly, you can help avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication. However, you won’t always agree on the myriad parenting issues that will arise. These skills can help you focus on finding a solution that’s best for your children.
Develop consistent parenting strategies
It’s typically better for kids when their parents have the same expectations for them. That doesn’t mean precisely the same rules and schedules. However, they should know that their parents agree on the big things, like grades and behavior. The more of a united front the kids see, the less likely they’ll be to try to play one of you against the other.
No matter how you feel about co-parenting therapy, by fully participating in it, you’re showing your kids, your co-parent and the court that you care about being a good parent. That can only help you if you want to spend more time with your children.