I recently attended a GOODTALK4PARENTS workshop to help parents reduce the negative impact of conflict on themselves and on their children while developing practical and effective communication skills. Brought by Shari Bornstein to FamilyKind, this is a co-parenting communication program modeled after the Connecticut P.E.A.C.E. program (Parents Equally Allied to Co-Parent Effectively).
I asked Shari a few questions:
When do parents need GOODTALK4PARENTS?
Parents benefit from this program when the communication between them has broken down. Following a painful separation, parents living in different households often have inadequate communication regarding their children. If parents are not speaking, or not speaking effectively with each other, or using their children as messengers, it is vital for them to engage in this work.
This program is especially helpful for parents who share a child with a chronic illness. Coordinating a medication regimen for a child with diabetes or behavior observation for a child with ADD/ADHD is of utmost importance so that the child receives the best care while in the care each parent.
Even when the state of residence requires participation in parenting classes, additional education and support benefits divorcing parents as they navigate the reconfiguration of their families.
Is GOODTALK4PARENTS a court ordered program?
This program is not currently court ordered. However mediators and attorneys may recommend that divorcing parents attend it so they can learn different skills and better tend to other aspects of their cases.
GOODTALK4PARENTS is a resource for parents at any stage of their separation, and for courts, lawyers, mediators, and mental health professionals to refer them to when they are having difficulty communicating. Without these alternatives, parents rely on the court system and third parties to determine the outcome of their disputes, rather than make their own decisions.
What do parents learn in this program?
In a private setting with a facilitator, parents learn to engage with each other in the challenging work of co-parenting. They learn to consistently share all important information and to tackle together problems encountered by raising children in two separate homes.
Parents educated in the “business of co-parenting” learn the skills to resolve their disputes and avoid the harmful effects of litigation on themselves and on their children.
Are the children involved directly in the program?
Children are not involved in the process because the focus is on the parents, as the adults, to do the work. The best analogy is the flight attendant who reminds passengers in the case of an emergency to first put on their oxygen masks before putting them on their children. Take care of the adults, the children will benefit!
How long does it take?
Because this program is not a “course,” nor is it therapy, there is no predetermined number of sessions, on average 6 to 8 sessions depending on the needs of the parents.
An additional benefit is that if at any point parents find themselves at an impasse, rather than let their co-parenting relationship take a turn for the worse, they are free to return for a “tune up.” Parents derive comfort in knowing that a resource is available to them in the future.
Shari Bornstein was a partner in the law office of Meccariello & Bornstein in Connecticut until she relocated to New York City. Shari focused her practice on family matters representing spouses and parents and served as a Guardian ad Litem for minor children. Shari is presently the Director of GoodTalk4Parents with FamilyKind in New York, offering education to parents to enhance their communication and co-parenting skills for the benefit of their children.
jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator divorce and family mediation upper east side of manhattan (nyc) new york, ny (212) 472-8626 firstname.lastname@example.org connect on