The primary aim of Parenting Co-Ordination is to create a positive 'co-parenting alliance' and place your child/children in the centre of your thoughts rather than in the middle of the conflict. In doing this, you are not only able to create a constructive environment for parental decision making, but also create a positive family environment that makes your child feel heard by both parents and less torn between them.
Parenting co-ordination can improve the health of all family members as it reduces the impact of the conflict of the parents’ breakup on the adults and children alike. It also supports parents to provide positive role models to their children in how to resolve conflict. This, alone, will have far reaching and positive effects on their children’s psychological wellbeing. It also indirectly affects how children learn positive ways to resolve conflict themselves and therefore in their future adult relationships.
Parenting Co-Ordinators are trained to be able to speak with the children of the families they work with, to draw out their experience of their parents’ conflict and to feed back their experiences, subject to the child’s consent. Children can often say quite different things to each parent when their parents are in conflict which can often add fuel to the fire between parents. It can be really helpful for parents to hear what is actually going on for their children and whether they have felt they have gone unheard or that they felt unable to say something important to their parents. Often, this is what promotes change and is the turning point which helps parents to move away from old patterns of communication and behaviour.
There is a growing body of evidence that inter-parental has a significantly damaging effect on children and on outcomes for children. For more information about this, there is a helpful TED talk from Tamara Afifi, here. We now understand that children can adapt to change and can cope with their parents’ separation or divorce if managed well – it is the ongoing conflict, or chronic conflict, and the ongoing loathing of one parent towards the other which they can’t cope with. Children instinctively know they are half of each parent. If the ongoing message is that either or both of their parents are ‘bad’, then they internalise this message and implicitly feel that they must also be bad, which has a significantly detrimental effect on their sense of self-worth and self-confidence which they carry into adulthood.
To find out more about Parental Co-Ordination, visit the Parenting Coordinators Alliance website.