JUNO COUNSELING AND WELLNESS

By Vassilia Binensztok, PhD

What is Co-parenting Therapy and How Can it Benefit Me?

“How did we get here?” is a question lots of couples who are co-parenting their children ask themselves. Our relationships start as something fun and happy, full of potential for a more fulfilling life. When our relationships deteriorate, or we find out there is a darker side to our partner, we can feel devastated that things did not work out as we had hoped. Divorce and separation can be crushing in themselves, but when children are involved it can become a minefield of conflict.

Co-parenting means we are tied for years to someone we no longer want as a partner. Instead of being able to leave this person in our past, we now have to try to move on while still communicating with them on a regular basis. This can make our lives a nightmare and these conflicts can inadvertently start to affect children.

Co-parenting therapy is designed to help parents put their anger and hurt aside and move forward in a civil way for the wellbeing of their children. Rather than being controlled by the past, people can use co-parenting therapy to find balance in their lives while remaining the best parents they can be. Co-parenting therapy helps in three main ways – by reducing conflict, improving communication, and implementing helpful parenting strategies.

Conflict Resolution

Divorced or separated parents often find themselves stuck in the same issues they had when they were in their relationship. Arguments and power struggles  can take a toll on both the parents’ and child’s mental health, as well as get in the way of any future relationships. People can find themselves with the added burden of having to deal with their ex’s new partner and many people now stop being civil to one another because they are no longer trying to preserve the relationship.

Co-parenting therapy helps parents set healthy boundaries and learn conflict resolution skills. This ensures that parents do not keep delving back into past complaints but learn to put their differences aside, move on with their lives, and focus their relationship on strictly co-parenting. Conflict resolution skills also help people avoid future conflicts by helping parents understand each other and make decisions based on the best needs of the children.

Healthy Communication

Parents can learn to communicate in ways that diffuse conflict and help them accomplish what they need. Healthy communication techniques help us learn to ask for things more effectively, explain ourselves more clearly, and coordinate plans more smoothly. Co-parenting therapy teaches people effective communication strategies that are useful for communicating about children without prying into each other’s personal lives, scheduling timesharing and events that focus on the children, addressing problems without blaming each other, and exchanging information without stirring up the past.

Parenting Strategies

Co-parenting therapy also helps people understand themselves and their children so they can be the best parents they can be. Messy divorces and high-conflict relationships can leave people feeling so drained that parenting starts to come second to the conflict with exes. There is no need to feel regretful if you fall into this. Reconnecting to your purpose as parents and defining the kind of parent you want to be helps put the focus back on parenting so you can actually enjoy your relationship with your children. Strategies include being consistent between both households, arranging timesharing and pick-ups/drop-offs in ways that work for the children and both parents, and reducing stress by having supplies, uniforms, etc. at both households.

Children whose parents are split might also try to play parents off one another. They might strategically choose who they ask for things or say that one parent should allow them to do something because the other parent allows it. They can show distress at going from one house to the other or exhibit negative emotions and behaviors. It is also common for children to side with one parent or emotionally punish one parent. All of these issues can be solved when both parents reduce conflict between each other and implement appropriate, consistent parenting strategies as a team.

Co-parenting does not have to be an excruciating experience that ruins your chance at happiness or stresses out your children. When both parents make a commitment to communicating for the sake of parenting, they can parent in a way that is effective for everyone. Research has shown that conflict between parent is harmful to children and parent-child relationships. Even those parents who are skeptical of co-parenting therapy can benefit from having an objective professional mediate between parents and teach them to co-parent in a healthy way.

If you are considering co-parenting therapy in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, or Palm Beach County, call me for a complimentary consultation.

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