Cooperative Coparenting through Separation and Divorce

Shielding Children from Conflict

Separation and Divorce Conflict Harms ChildrenFamily relationships do not disappear when a marriage ends. For the sake of their children, parents must continue to communicate with former spouses in matters of child-rearing. The ability of parents to interact with each other greatly affects the child’s adjustment. Unrelenting parental conflict is the single most common cause of poor adjustment in children when parents have separated.

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce is a psychoeducational program designed to improve the quality of the parental relationship and is the most extensive, informed and interactive resource to date examining the complex realities of separation and divorce. This thoughtful and practical program can be implemented in eight sessions lasting 90 minutes to 2 hours each. The Cooperative Parenting and Divorce program has been well received by judges and juvenile courts since its introduction in 1995.

The overall emphasis of Cooperative Parenting and Divorce is to offer children the opportunity to grow in a home environment free from being caught in the middle of parental conflict.  It aims to educate parents about the issues children face in divorce and the impact of parental conflict on their child’s development. It also focuses on the identification of personal contribution to conflict, strategies to improve impulse control, anger management, healthy communication, and conflict resolution skills.

The program can be implemented as a “stand-alone” program. However, to ensure consistency between homes, parents may be encouraged to participate in a 3-session Positive Parenting program. 

Also, if it is deemed appropriate and beneficial, children participate in the Child Program designed to help children cope with the trauma of their parents’ separation or divorce. Sessions are 60-90 minutes long and each parent is expected to attend
alternate sessions with their child and meet with the counselor. The program consists of a minimum of 9 to 10 sessions for each child and is recommended for children aged six or over.

How the Program Works

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce explores the issues associated with divorce through an individual, couple, or group format that can be implemented easily and safely, while creating a supportive environment. 

The goals of the program include:

  • Assisting parents in shifting their role from former spouses to co-parents
  • Educating parents regarding the impact of parental conflict on their child’s development
  • Helping parents identify their contributions to conflict while increasing impulse control
  • Teaching parents anger management, communication and conflict resolution skills and children’s issues in divorce

Benefits of the Cooperative Coparenting Program

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce benefits children by:

  • Reducing the child’s symptoms of stress as parental conflict decreases
  • Diminishing the child’s sense of loyalty binds.
  • Allowing the child to love both parents
  • Creating a more relaxed home atmosphere, allowing the child to adjust more effectively
  • Teaching effective communication and conflict-resolution skills as modeled by their parents
  • Increasing the likelihood of keeping two active parents in the child’s life 
  • Potentially reducing adolescent drug and alcohol problems, teenage pregnancy, school drop-out rates, and crime associated with children of divorce 
  • Potentially diminishing the likelihood of future relationship difficulties and divorce for the child
The Cooperative Parenting and Divorce program benefits divorcing or divorced parents by:
  • Assisting parents in shifting their role from former spouses to co-parents
  • Educating parents regarding the impact of parental conflict on their child’s development
  • Helping parents identify their contribution to conflict while increasing impulse control
  • Teaching parents anger management, communication and conflict resolution skills, and children’s issues in divorce

 

COOPERATIVE PARENTING AND DIVORCE

Program Overview

Program Format

Cooperative Parenting and Divorce explores the issues associated with divorce through a program that incorporates skill development, discussions, role plays, application and homework assignments. It offers specific, proven-effective activities that can be implemented easily and safely, while creating a supportive environment. It is the most extensive interactive resource to date examining the complex realities of divorce.

This thoughtful and practical program can be implemented in an individual, couple, or group setting.

Outline of the Eight Sessions

Assessment – Before starting the program, an assessment for suitability is required to ensure that the program will be a good fit for you and your family. 

Session One – Making the Commitment to Caring (Child-Focused or Out of Focus). Parents learn to recognize parental hostility and discover how conflict impacts their child’s development. Factors that influence a child’s adjustment to divorce are presented. The notion of “child-focused” versus “self-focused” is proposed and stressed throughout the program. Parents complete a “Commitment to Caring” agreement and are introduced to the eight steps of effective co-parenting.

Session Two – Allowing My Child to Love Both Parents (Plan for Peace or Tug of War). For the sake of their child, parents learn to view their former spouse from their child’s perspective. Parents work to identify the positive and valuable qualities of the child’s other parent. They learn to create two homes, minimize stress at transitions, and make time sharing a positive experience for their child. Parents determine the obvious and not so obvious ways they put their child in the middle of their conflict. They discover the influence of loyalty and the ways their children struggle to avoid a loyalty bind. The importance of allowing children access to their extended family is also addressed.

Session Three – Changing My Long Term Role (Letting Go or Holding On). Parents examine their attachment to their former spouse. They discover that their anger and bitterness keep them emotionally attached to one another in much the same was as their love once did. They identify their level of attachment and learn ways to let go physically and emotionally from their marital relationship. The grief process, forgiveness and the value of rituals are reviewed.

Session Four – Choosing My Personal Path (Make it Better or Keep it Bitter). Parents clarify their personal choices and identify a personal path. The term “realignment” is introduced to assist parents in creating a new role as co-parents. Obstacles to realignment are examined and the notion of “secondary gains,” “boundaries” and the “non-interference principle” are presented. Characteristics of a business relationship are taught as they apply to a co-parenting relationship. The STP-A technique is demonstrated. Parents realize that they are separate but equal partners in their role as co-parents regardless of their custody arrangement.

Session Five – Managing My Own Anger (Neither Fight nor Take Flight). Parents explore the emotion of anger. They determine what anger is, the internal and external signals of anger, constructive versus destructive anger, anger triggers, and the consequences of harboring anger. Parents recognize their distorted beliefs and how their negative assumptions create negative feelings toward the other parent. The Anger Connection (cognitive restructuring) is presented to teach parents how their thoughts create their feelings. Parents are taught to take responsibility for their actions rather than wait for their co-parent to change. In addition, they are exposed to a variety of strategies to manage their anger as well as their child’s anger.

Session Six – Taking Control of Conflict (Defuse or Light the Fuse). Parents examine the cycle of conflict using concepts of “fire prevention.” Barriers to effective conflict resolution are highlighted and techniques to overcome these barriers are practiced. They identify ways to defuse conflict for themselves and their child. Parents learn effective communication and listening skills. The advantages of effective communication between co-parents are stressed. Parents identify their contribution to the communication pattern and identify obstacles to successful interaction. Tips for dealing with unreasonable expectations and limit-setting techniques are taught and practiced.

Session Seven – Negotiating Agreement (All a Winner or Winner Take All). Problem-solving techniques and business relationship skills are examined from a divorced parent position. A seven step negotiation method is demonstrated. Parents discover that negotiating on behalf of their child means that if their child “wins” then everyone is the “winner.” Parents learn how to prepare for and organize business meetings with their co-parent. They develop constructive ways to address many typical divorce situations.

Session Eight – Co-Parenting Is Forever (Cooperation or Conflict). Parents review their commitment to care, the notion of “child-focused” versus “self-focused” as well as communication and negotiation skills. Parents are introduced to techniques to determine the validity of their concerns, the seriousness of their concerns, and practice how to address these issues in a productive manner. Co-parents are given the tools necessary to create agreements based on their child’s best interest. To formalize their joint commitment to their child’s future, co-parents participate in a “Co-Parenting Is Forever” ceremony at the end of the program.

 

To join a waitlist for a group program, please fill out the contact form here. 

If you are interested in individual or couple sessions, please contact Connie or Wendy at Incentive Counselling to request an appointment, or book here: https://incentivecounselling.janeapp.com/

Cooperative Co-Parenting Counsellors

Connie Lupichuk

BSW, MSW, CLC, RSW

Connie Lupichuk

Connie is based in Penticton and provides counselling services in-person or online. To read more about Connie, please click the button below.

Wendy Blancher

BEd, MEd, RPC

Wendy is based in Kelowna and provides counselling services in-person or online. To read more about Wendy, please click the button below.