Child custody and parenting time cases are often very trying for the parties. The subject matter is so important that parents often find themselves wrapped up in the minutia of their co-parenting relationship. It becomes easy to focus on the other parent’s failings instead of stepping back and seeing the forest, not the trees. Many see the “fight” for custody as just that – a fight. In reality, a fight is not the healthiest approach for the children. Even though the kids are supposed to be kept blissfully in the dark, unaware of any ill feelings that transpire between the parents, they quickly pick up on the dynamics. They overhear conversations, sense tone, and understand much more than the parents believe possible.
The healthiest and most sustainable approach to a co-parenting relationship is to learn the skills necessary to effectively raise a child together for many years to come. Kids Turn is a class which has both a parent and a child component (for children ages 5-16) in Washington County. My clients have had very positive experiences with this class and have raved about its effectiveness. They felt their children’s voices got to be heard and the parent-child and co-parenting skills learned were carried on at home long after the class ended. To learn more about Kids Turn, please contact the registrar at (503) 846-0665.
Conciliation Services is another resource often overlooked by many parties struggling with co-parenting and communication. Each county in Oregon has some version of this resource which provides one or all of the following programs: mediation, co-parenting counseling, individual counseling, family therapy, and parenting classes. Often, the first few sessions are done free of and then offered at a reduced rate. To determine the services available in your area, contact the Mediation or Conciliation Services branch of your local circuit court.
Lastly, several parents seek to better their parenting styles and communication even after a custody case. I have Portland-area clients which been very impressed with Judith Swinney’s program, “Parenting Beyond Conflict.” This class is attended by both parents together and runs for several weeks, focusing on minimizing the impact of divorce on children, teaching strategies for co-parenting and communicating effectively. For more information on this program, call (503) 972-5683.