You’ve probably heard a lot about how damaging divorce can be for kids. The reality is that it isn’t the divorce itself, but the behavior of the parents following the divorce that is the issue. Did you know that according to scientific research, the number one predictor of successful outcomes for children of divorce is the way their parents communicate with and about each other? That’s been shown to be the case so many times that there is no debate about it among family science professionals. It’s understood to be truth.
When a marriage ends, the family doesn’t. The structure and dynamics of the family change, but you and your former spouse are still your children’s parents.
The very best thing you can do for your children is to show them with your words and actions that no matter what, you and your former partner are their parents and that you both love them, support them, and want what’s best for them.
When you divorced, your roles changed. You went from the most intimate relationship that two people can have, to a relationship that feels very much like a business arrangement, with scheduling and logistics needing to be planned out and discussed. Calm conversations about your children can be difficult when emotions run high. Old pain can continue to come up as you navigate your new roles as co-parents, and when that happens, co-parenting effectively becomes nearly impossible, and many families benefit from having someone serve as a go-between for a time to help each parent stick to facts and important matters without being distracted by things that happened in the past.
So here’s where Hearten House comes in:
When you sign up for Hearten House’s Communication Services, you get a trained mediator and family life educator as your go-between for communication and, if you’d like, scheduling. We can even help you to create a parenting plan and discuss ways you can work together to keep things consistent at both houses.
A lot of parents agree to communicate only in writing, rather than over the phone. For some this includes text messages and email, and for others it’s email only. Some use email only for a while and once they have learned to communicate effectively, they add texting back in. Some stick with email and agree to use texting for if the child has an emergency.
At Hearten House, we divide our communication services into four levels.
Level One – Email
When you sign up, you will have one day per week that is your day to send your parental communication. Your co-parent will also have a set email day, usually two days after (for example, one of you will email on Wednesday, the other on Friday). You send the email to us, and we forward it along. If there is anything emotionally charged or accusatory in the email, we will respond letting you know what was filtered out, and send only the pertinent information to the other parent. This will give you time to re-write what you would like to say. Wednesday emails will be forwarded on Thursday to be responded to on Friday, the other parent’s regular email day.
Level Two – Email and Coaching
In addition to the email filtering described above, when we send back things that need to be rephrased, we will speak with you personally about what could be said more effectively, why, and work with you to brainstorm new ways to say it.
Level Three – Email, Coaching, and Scheduling
In addition to email and coaching, we will use your divorce decree and parent time schedule and work together with you to create a calendar that reflects your agreement. The calendars will be agreed to and set in advance, so everyone knows what to expect. Many families find that the scheduling service helps them to avoid conflict by making everything clear ahead of time and eliminating last minute scheduling discussions. Trading nights and weekends when things come up is normal, and the schedule is not set in stone. It can be changed by an email agreement between the two of you.
Level Four – Email, Coaching, Scheduling, and Education
Level Four includes all of the above services and adds an evidence-based curriculum called Keys to Co-Parenting™ which guides you through our concept that the “co” in “co-parenting” is not short for contest or conflict. “Consistency, Communication, Collaboration, and Compassion”™ are the Keys to Co-Parenting™ and we believe that once you master these skills, you will fire us, and getting fired because your family doesn’t need us anymore is our ultimate goal.
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