Parents coming to parenting coordination are most often exhausted from their separation process and feel resistant to committing to yet another process that requires further engagement with each other. They may be feeling defensive and guarded, and are likely entrenched in certain behaviours with each other.
The role of a parenting coordinator is a supportive role. Parenting coordinating is designed to assist parents in transitioning from the adversarial nature of previous processes, to a process that focuses on co-parenting and making decisions together in a more collaborative manner and in a way that best serves their children and their relationships with their children.
My primary job as PC is to empower the parents to learn the skills they need to manage their parenting relationship in the best possible way. In doing so, I bring specific skills into my PC practice. The title of this post is perhaps a misnomer; these skills I bring to my PC space are perhaps better described as practices, and these are:
- Deep empathy for each parent.
- Non- judgement. While I may be required to make an arbitration award at some point in the process, my overall approach is one of non-judgement.
- Managed emotions. I work with the parents on how to better manage their reactions to each other (and to me) and share resources and tools to help them do that.
- Focused problem solving. It is so easy to get caught in the weeds while wading through tumultuous waters; I help guide the clients and show them how to focus on the issues.
- Writing skills. Parents will most often be more productive in the PC process when they are well prepared. We use forms and specific protocols for parents to raise issues and concerns when preparing for a PC meeting, including the exchanging of proposals. I ask parents to write out and exchange the issues and facts, citing the relevant sections of their parenting plan, before seeking my help. Writing it out helps the parents to focus, to organise their thoughts, and perhaps even work out the issue without seeking an intermediary.
In my next post I will talk about the intersection of mediation and Parenting Coordination.