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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”