Coparent Counseling: Why it's a no-brainer!
Parenting is hard!
End of Sentence!
Co-parenting from two different homes adds an extra layer of challenge.
Enter Coparent counseling!
Coparenting on a good day, it takes extra communication, coordination, planning, and skill.
On a difficult co-parenting day, tensions rapidly rise because you are at odds. You have divergent priorities and expectations… and you may think, “So much for ‘conscientious uncoupling.’
In those moments, I hope you can give yourself some grace. Let’s face it, when decisions about your kids are on the line, emotions escalate and conflict can erupt quickly.
Unfortunately, when this happens, you aren’t the only one feeling the tension. Your child feels it too and may be left feeling confused and conflicted.
Luckily, there is something you can do if you are in this situation. Counseling for parents can help bring some peace into your family (or- at the very least- civil dialogue regarding your child).
What the heck is coparent counseling?
Coparenting therapy is specifically for parents who are getting ready to, in the middle of separation/divorced or have already done so.
Because the needs of each family are varied, counseling for co parents is specifically tailored to meet the needs of your family and your unique situation. While it is unique, there are some common themes among parents that seek a coparenting therapist.
- You are parents that struggle to speak to each other.
- You are parents that get along fairly well and want an expert to help you think through how to be purposeful.
- You are parents that feel stuck in a communication rut and want to find a better and more peaceful way of coparenting.
Although all situations are unique, the subject matter that parents want to address in coparent counseling is fairly predictable.
Common topics include:
- Adjusting to parental separation
- Thinking through the changes that two-household parenting brings
- Improving communication
- Helping the child come to terms with the separation or divorce
- Figuring out various logistics, for example:
- What can be communicated that will put your child at child at ease?
- How much communication between co-parents is helpful?
- Should rules and routines be consistent between the household?
- What family rituals do you both want to maintain?
Again, your goals for seeking coparenting therapy are unique to your family… so there isn’t a prescribed goal.
Rather, you may not even be able to articulate it, but we will focus (and find) your goal for what you want your family to achieve. If you have an idea about what your goal is coming into coparent counseling, that is helpful.
To help you think through this, here are some goals that I often hear parents say:
- Maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship.
- Deal with a coparent that seems to want to make your life miserable.
- Create mutual expectations on how you want to parent your child.
- Set up a two-household family structure where your child can thrive.
Generally, in coparenting counseling, your present-day concerns and issues will be used as the means to focus on:
- Helping you become more aware of your feelings, get curious about what your feelings might mean, and how to effectively communicate your feelings & concerns to your coparent.
- Helping you both get on the same page about what your child needs.
- Learning new communication skills to increase the effectiveness of putting your goals into action. Typically, we work on becoming more competent in various communication strategies including:
- Curiosity questions
- Consulting one another while being generous with your assumptions
- Negotiation strategies
While you will have unique goals, coparent counseling, there is always a universal underlying goal: Help your child navigate an emotionally difficult situation with skills and tools to help them thrive in their life.
Additionally, the goal of counseling for coparenting should never be to make you look good and your coparent looks bad. Your child is the sole focus of coparenting therapy!
What is the child’s involvement in co-parenting counseling?
It depends. Each family is unique. Perhaps your child has no interest in attending a session or two of counseling. That is fine. Perhaps they would like to attend a session or two. That is fine too.
Ultimately, coparenting therapy is going to focus on how you and your coparent can set up a two-parent household where your child can thrive. How exactly we do that will depend on your unique family.
What can you do right now to improve your co-parenting?
I get it, when it comes to your kids, you want to do something yesterday!
Here are some things you can do today:
- Shift your point of view: Your child shares certain details about their life with you and certain details with their other parent. If you can come together to try to gain a more complete picture of what is happening in your child’s life, it is ideal. If you can approach your coparent with this in mind, it might make the conversation go a little bit more smooth.
- If the communication between you and your coparent almost always results in conflict, experiment with different forms of communication. Suggest to them that you only text or e-mail for a while. Even if your coparent doesn’t agree, you can limit communication.
- Additionally, try to make sure that you don’t talk, text, or type out an e-mail while you are feeling strong and difficult emotions. When you are in that space, you aren’t purposefully working towards the goal of a thriving life for your kids.
- Try (however hard) to say something positive about the other parent.
- Even if the parent badmouths you, take the high road. When they go low, you have the choice to go lowor go high. Your child will appreciate it (20 years from now) if you go high.
- Similarly, disagree in private.
- Acknowledge that no one is perfect. Both of you make mistakes. You can use those mistakes to learn and grow- even if your coparent doesn’t.
- Keep in mind that raising a healthy, well-adjusted child takes one “good enough” parent. Research has shown that one consistent, loving, purposeful parent is what is needed. You can’t control your coparent, but you can take many steps to create a healthy and well-adjusted child!
In the meantime, are you ready to give therapy a go?
Free free to contact me directly if you have questions or to schedule a brief call to see if I might be able to support you as you journey forward.
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As a marriage and family therapist, I also offer: