As far as I remember, parenting classes were originally designed to teach expectant or new parents how to take care of their newborn baby and how to handle the different stages of their early development.
In the area of separation and divorce, attending parenting classes has a very different purpose. Lesley Friedland, Founder and Executive Director of FamilyKind in New York City, says in her own words:
“In the area of divorce and separation, attending a parenting class is the best gift one can give to oneself and to one’s children.”
Sadly, many separating or divorcing parents who are encouraged to attend these classes, often feel that they are being criticized for their parenting skills or rather lack there of. The reality is that parenting presents all of us, divorcing parents or not, with ongoing challenges, whether we expect them, or as you may well know, too often when we don’t. For myself, I wish I had had such an opportunity when I went through my own divorce with three young children 25 years ago.
Parenting classes for families going through separation and divorce are geared towards helping parents understand and meet the challenges they and their children face during these difficult transitions. These classes will give you both practical information and coping strategies for the following main goals:
- Creating and Maintaining Supportive Parent-Child Relationships
- Co-parenting and disciplining your children between two homes
- Understanding your children’s fears and meeting their needs during a divorce
- Parenting styles
- Parenting plans
- Providing a Stable, Supportive Home Environment
- Transitioning children between homes
- Setting boundaries
- Blending families
- Dating and blending new people into your children’s lives
- Maintaining Healthy Parental Functioning & Psychological Well-Being
- Divorce anger management
- Divorce stress
- Coping skills to make this emotional time less stressful
- Recognizing the correlation between rage, fear and the need to control, as they relate to parenting
- Taking care of yourself and your children in a divorce
- Protecting Children from Ongoing Conflict Between Parents
- Getting along with your ex-partner
- Respecting your ex-partner as a parent to your child
- Supporting your child’s relationship with the other parent
Empower yourself to make better choices by seeing divorce as a family matter rather than a bitter legal case. Try to see divorce through your children’s eyes to understand their feelings and fears, and to create a home which gives them love and a deeper sense of security.
If you know anyone who may benefit from such classes, please invite them to visit www.FamilyKind.org or call 646-580-4735.
Any questions that you would like to see answered in these classes, please write your suggestions in the box below.
Comments From Social Media
Great information! I have done research on the way divorce impacts children and your points are right on! Thank you for sharing!
Good article! When divorce trauma impairs thinking it can be difficult to focus on what’s important. Where children are involved, whilst adult relationships may end – parenting relationships continue in the context of sharing responsibilities for parenting the child. Communication is key, thus, early professional intervention via ‘parenting classes’ at this difficult time of transition might be helpful.
Parenting classes for separating and divorcing parents are not what people think. Well done, Jennifer!
Mark B. Baer
Parenting classes are very valuable, especially when families are experiencing a difficult transition such as a divorce. It is easy for parents to loose sight of their child’s interests when they are winding through their own emotional maze. In my state, the court has the power to enforce classes for divorcing parents (Parent Stabilization Course) and parenting aids for families in conflict such as parent coaching and parent coordination . Unfortunately most courts in my area do not utilize these tools. It is not uncommon for parents to ignore, and the courts to not uphold, a mandate that parents attend a class focused on the children in the midst of a divorce or custody case.
As a result, I try my best to educate parents throughout the mediation process on topics concerning their children. Many times placing the focus on the children’s best interest during a divorce mediation is beneficial in finding common ground and channeling parents’ energy in a positive manner.
As both a mediator and parenting educator it is always sad when the children’s needs are not recognized in the chaos and trauma of separation. I like to suggest that both parents attend parenting after separation here in BC and focus on the skills and strengths both of them have and how to use them in ongoing or future difficult conversations. I would like to see more emphasis placed on the parents to attend parenting courses that focus on attachment and the need the child(ren) have in relationship with both parents.
Good article! Post separation parenting requires more work and effort and perhaps revisiting communication skills, to ensure that children are not subject to a needless ordeal. Children may already feel, albeit wrongly, that they have in some way contributed to the break up, and will need reassurance. Adult relationships may end but parenting responsibilities post separation continues to be shared, and requires effective communication. After all, its not about adult wishes and feelings about the breakup; its about the child.
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