Co-parenting: Being there

Children suffer the most in divorces, being powerless and torn by their feelings for both parents.

One of the best ways to protect your youngsters is to take co-parenting classes — if at all possible with your ex- or former partner.

Co-parenting most frequently refers to two people sharing responsibility for children after their marriage or cohabitation relationship ends.

boy with umbrellaWilshire/Valley co-parenting sessions are ideal for those going through a divorce, or raising children in a blended family.

Other people who can be helped with these short-term counseling sessions are grandparents with custody, step-parents unsure of their roles, and gay/lesbian parents.

Our co-parenting therapy sessions help families in transition using solution-focused techniques that address the best interests of the child. The therapy reduces stress and anxiety for parents and caregivers.

Three to five visits usually are enough to focus on all key issues in the complex area of co-parenting.

Co-parenting: Help the kids & yourself

1. Never speak bitterly of your ex-partner in front of the children. Keep your feelings of rage, hurt and loss away from them. Sharing with the kids might make you feel better for a short while, but it’s a dead end. Don’t ask the children to keep secrets, give you advice or otherwise ease your pain.

2. It is your job to help your kids. Not the other way around. When you need help, get it from a mental health professional or a divorce counselor.

3. Children almost always feel they’re at fault as the parents enter the divorce cycle. They’ll often ask repeatedly what they did wrong. Perhaps they will promise to do better in school or clean their rooms. Tell the children that the divorce had nothing to do with them. They must know both parents love them no matter what happens.

4. Look after your health, nutrition and stress levels. The physical toll associated with divorce and child custody issues can be high. Your immune system will be under attack. Spend time with friends and find ways to relax, or at least decompress. See your medical doctor.

5. Find within yourself the maturity, clarity and lack of ego to seek co-parenting counseling with your former partner. The benefits are enormous — co-parenting sessions help ease the pain for everyone in your family.

Action items

“We still have each other”: Dr. Katrina Wood of Wilshire/Valley and guest Tara Fass, MFT, discuss the effects of broken marriages and relationships on children.