Are you and your ex still fighting over the kids even though the relationship has been over for months or even years? Still struggling with pick-ups and drop-offs? If yes, it’s time to get some help with co-parenting, help that can range from the use of a court-ordered parenting consultant to parent mediation. Each of these are important and helpful processes available to help you and your ex create a more effective co-parenting relationship.
Parenting consulting is the process to use when the conflict is such that you and your co-parent need the decision making authority of a neutral, outside third party. The parenting consultant is given authority by the court to make binding decisions within a specified scope.
Parent mediation is a more informal process than parenting consulting, and can be a better, less expensive option when the co-parents have the capacity to “hash through” topics without getting completely stuck in the conflict. This process involves both co-parents meeting together on a short-term basis to resolve specific challenges.
Reunification is needed when there is a significant skew toward a “favored” parent and away from the “targeted” parent. This process is a difficult and challenging one, and is most effective when there is a court order in place.
Parent coaching is a one-on-one process to help one of the co-parents interact more effectively with their former partner. Parent coaching may be ordered by a parenting consultant when he/she has identified a need for the parent to get help with conflict resolution and/or co-parenting communication.
Many parents experiencing parent-child contact problems or the resist-refuse dynamics during or after a divorce suspect that their former partner may be alienating their child from them. As explained on the page Is it “parental alienation”, alienation may be occurring. Or, it may be what we call a “hybrid” situation, where there are justified reasons for a child to resist spending time with the “out” or “targeted” parent. It is the rare “in” or “favored” parent who would openly admit to alienating a child from the other parent, so it’s often useful to look at the behaviors of the child to assess where the child lies on the continuum of resist-refuse dynamics. If there is a pattern of the following behaviors, we can be more confident in our assessment that alienation is occurring.
Click here to learn more about addressing parental alienation.
“Children are extremely vulnerable to their parent’s mental health and their behaviours. Like tiny weather vanes, children will shift their allegiance back and forth depending upon their internalised experience of being threatened with abandonment. Children experience deeply that they are so dependent upon their parents that without them they would die. This is the underlying reason why some children are so vulnerable to alienation. When those same children are reconnected to parents who can convey to them their enduring healthy love and support, the fear of abandonment recedes and the defence drops.”
— Karen Woodall, April 16, 2020
Kalli Matsuhashi, MA, LP, LMFT
New Family Beginnings
4660 Slater Rd., Suite 245A
Eagan, MN 55122