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Journey to Successful Co-Parenting

Journey to Successful Co-Parentling

Last month I wrote about the relaunching of the First Step: Foundations in Co-Parenting. The title is intentional in that most co-parenting journeys follow a winding path, much like Dorothy’s trip to Oz, but start with a single step. For some, the journey is uneventful; for others, obstacles and challenges await with each successive step.

First Step: Foundations in Co-Parenting

While the First Step program is designed as a comprehensive overview of co-parenting theory, resilience building, and skill development, it would be a mistake to conclude that proficiency in effective co-parenting can happen after a four-hour presentation. Dorothy found that the yellow brick road provided her occasions to learn and grow—to discover resilience and strength that she did not know she had. The relationships with the scarecrow, tinman, and lion all provided her the opportunity to hone and practice skills necessary to go home.

Likewise, the Kids First Center provides a continuum of programing providing parents the opportunity to hone and practice co-parenting skills in a safe and supportive environment.

For those not familiar with the format of the First Step, it is a four-hour lecture of the basics. There is opportunity for general questions and input from parents, but the webinar format is not designed to dive deeply into the practical use of co-parenting skill techniques.

Next Step: Putting Conflict Aside

That “deep dive” occurs in the Next Step: Putting Conflict Aside. The Next Step is a four-week 12-hour class that allows a small group of parents to come together to practice and master the skills necessary for effective co-parent communication, and when that is not possible, the skills to disengage and deflect the conflict and hostility that is so damaging to children.

Like all Kids First programs, it is team led by our amazing facilitators; also, like all of Kids First programing, much of the learning comes with the interaction and support among the cohort of parents who allow themselves to be vulnerable in an effort at getting to a better place.

Intense Co-Parenting Education

Coupled with a general willingness and desire to keep their children from exposure to conflict, attendance at the First Step and Next Step programs are enough to set parents on a path of effective co-parenting. A small but significant number need more: the Intensive Co-Parenting Education (ICOPE) program. ICOPE is a nine-week 27-hour co-parenting “boot camp” for parents who have been identified by the court as needing intensive skill building support.

Other Co-Parenting Classes

The Center offers two specialized programs as supplements to the sequence of general co-parenting classes. The first is Parents with New Partners, a four-hour exploration of the challenges (and joys) of the introduction of a new partner into the co-parenting family dynamic. The second is Kids First Center Program for Women, a six-hour class that explores the unique challenges of parenting for those who have been victimized by domestic violence.

We cannot say that clicking one’s parental heels will result in an effortless co-parenting experience, but following the path of programing at the Kids First Center will assure that every parent has the tools to keep their kids first.

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