Read what Lisa and Felipe Andrade (pictured above with their children) have to say about Kids First Center's Intensive Co-Parenting Education program (ICOPE) ICOPE is a nine-week, court-ordered program designed to build co-parenting skills for parents who are in high-conflict situations or have little or no effective communication.
Lisa: Upon entering class, my co-parenting partner and I were not communicating in any way other than by sporadic email, which was tumultuous and conflict-ridden. We were not functioning as a unit and certainly not offering the stability that our children so desperately needed.
I didn’t want to attend this class. I dreaded the time commitment and was convinced it wouldn’t help me in any way. But I attended anyway.
Over the course of the program, I started to be impacted by the lessons that played out before my eyes. I saw the pain that each couple was experiencing, inflicting and living daily. I saw a reflection of my life through the details in each of theirs. I clearly saw the dysfunction and pain that their kids were living. I scripted advice that I would give to them, in my head.
Around week 7, I started to realize that instead of scripting advice to others, I needed to take my own advice. When asked if I would do anything for my kids, the answer was and always will be, YES! So I started doing the hard things for my kids. I started battling with the stronghold stance I had on our issues. I started to question myself with “what is the worst that will happen if he takes the kids an extra night?” And better yet, I started to see what good could come from those things.
Some of the lessons we have learned have been riveting and have had a strong impact on our lives already. A simple weekly co-parenting partner phone call, in a business-like fashion, has allowed us to function as a unit. The language we use gives the other parent the benefit of the doubt and keeps the emotional subtext at a minimum.
The conflict resolution model we learned allows us to place big, heavy topics at a time when it is best for both parties to listen, be creative, and work through the process given. It isn’t a promise that things will be perfect, but it is a path that we haven’t been able to forge on our own before ICOPE.
One of the most meaningful gifts that ICOPE has given to my family is the perspective to see how the hurt and conflict of divorce doesn’t have to be as bad as we were making it. Hanging a picture of my co-parenting partner and our children in the living room was such a welcome surprise to my children. It has been a conversation starter for many chats. At one point in time, there is NO WAY I would have ever agreed to hang a photo of him up in my house. But, that one small gesture has made a huge impact on my kids. The ability to see the impact this has had on my kids is something I am so thankful to Kids First for.
For someone who had NO desire to attend this program, you should know that I do wish this program was one or two weeks longer and that it was mandatory for more struggling couples. I wish we had to take the course sooner, but I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. Going forward, I will always look back fondly at this program and be thankful to Susan and David for their gentle wisdom, and persistent kindness to all of us.
Felipe: The I-COPE program has helped us to get to a place of understanding that even though we have issues and disagreements, there are decisions to be made that require the two parents involved to come to some sort of agreement. Through the program I have learned that these decisions are based on mutual respect, consideration and focused on the kids. What I might think is best for the kids can be enhanced when my co-parenting partner can bring additional ideas to the table. The structure of the program has allowed us to communicate in a more business-like model, taking the emotions out of it. From our experience we were in different phases of the grieving process and with the tools given in the program we were able to move further down the process in order to be able to co-parent in a better fashion. I found that this program is very helpful to couples with high conflict relationships in any manner; emotionally/financially/logistically. Sometimes even the smallest of decisions can be emotionally jarring for people in high conflict relationships and this program gives you the tools to communicate and find a resolution for the kids.
“I learned how important our behavior (verbal and non-verbal) is, and how it impacts our children. How I can rise above all issues, and just focus on my babies.”
“What I learned was that the best thing I can do for my kids is to say something good about their other parent!”
“I appreciated the focus on how many different relationships my/our kids are dealing with.”
“I learned I am in control of my behavior; I can’t control my co-parent!”
“I received validation; it helped to know that I’m not alone. I appreciated the section on preparing for court – that is coming up soon and I am scared.”