What Does Co-Parent Coaching Feel and Look Like?
Co-Parent Coaching differs from Co-Parent Counseling in several ways. Co-parent coaching focuses on the present, future and the task of working together with your ex to raise your children, whereas therapy often involves a deep exploration of issues of the past.
Coaching involves clarifying parent goals and values you each want to teach and instill in your children, working together to resolve communication issues and creating a "new normal" around specific tasks such as doctor appointments, school activities, bedtimes, pick up/drop off times and locations and learning to be flexible and assertive in your relationships with your kids and ex. .
Divorced co-parent clients often tell me they tried therapy in the past but they seemed stuck and unable to make any progress. Co-parent coaches care about what happened before you requested services. They want to know how you met your spouse, how long you were married (or together), whether your children were planned and what happened in your relationship, leading up to the divorce or separation. They also want to know how you have explained these recent changes to your kids. Co-parent coaches teach skills of mindfulness, meditation, managing your moods, responding not impulsively reacting to your ex, and being open and willing to listen to feedback from the other parent. Sometimes, coaches are also consultants and mentors, providing sharing personal experiences or giving advice on ways to handle situations.
Co-parenting coaching can be challenging, hard work though your kids are worth it. 50% of them comes from each of you (biological children) and they love both of their parents. If their parents can't live in the same house, they at least want them to be friendly to each other and not be caught in the middle as if they are in a game of tug-of-war.
Our Co-Parent Coaching Process
Our Co-Parent Coaching process at Playful Awareness has 4 parts:
Assessment: Your coach will meet with each parent separately in order to get background information on your marriage/separation including positives and negatives and what went wrong in the relationship. This stage also includes learning about your preferred parenting style and ways of responding to clients.
Clarity of Goals This stage will involve identifying clear, objective, measurable goals to work on during the next 30-60 days, and will include Action Steps each parents agrees to commit to in order to achieve the goals.
Working Stage Coaching This stage is where the real work of coaching happens. Parents learn, practice and implement conflict resolution skills, assess their own behaviors and beliefs about their ex and create new patterns of interactions and demonstrate kindness and compassion towards their ex, while gaining an awareness of times when they may be "giving in", being "too harsh" or focusing on their frustrations towards their ex, instead of their kids.
Termination This stage involves a reducing the frequency of services, identifying red flags for relapsing into old patterns, identifying progress made and a date for ending services. This is an important stage of the coaching, as it helps set parents up for success, not failure.
You may want to meet with a co-parenting coach if you are struggling with the following:
creating specific boundaries and expectations of your kids during visits
holding back from setting limits out of fear of what your ex might do
understanding how to create a safe environment for your kids to process their feelings, even if it might hurt one of their parents
working with your spouse as a team, supporting each parents' right to spend time with and have a relationship with their kids
letting go of past anger, hurt and resentments
letting your kids know you have started dating again
navigating how to handle events where both parents are invited (music concerts, dance recitals, sporting events, graduations, events involving extended family
how best to help your kids adjust to your divorce/separation
enjoying life when your kids are with the other parent
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Sara is a former panelist for Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, a 2018 Pathway to Hope Founder's Award Nominee, TV Segment Contributor and Founder of Playful Awareness. She is a professional co-parenting and blended family coach and has 25 years experience living in two different blended families. She is also a 3x author and her latest book, "Should You Say "I Do" to Spouse #2 will be released in Winter 2020. She can be reached at email@example.com