The second phase of parenting coordination also teaches effective ways to talk with your children. Divorce can lead to bad communication habits between children and parents.

Children may be afraid of taking sides, or they may learn to play one parent against another to get what they want. Parents may get in the habit of talking down about their ex to the children. Good communication needs to be in place even when your children make you angry (or sad, or guilty). Children, just like adults, can push our buttons. Learning to stick to healthy ways of communication keeps everyone on track—you and the children. The last phase of parenting coordination is maintenance. The plan may need to be “recalculated” due to a missed or wrong turn. Or you may get remarried, changing the way the family looks again. The parenting plan will be adjusted and the destination checked to be sure that you and your children are on track.

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Parenting coordination works. A study in 2010, called the Parenting Coordination Project, found that, after six months in the program, parents reported much less hostility and anger with one another and a significant improvement in their ability to work together cooperatively. This study also found that children were much less anxious and stressed after their parents had been working with a Parenting Coordinator.

Compared with families who only went to court, parents who worked with a Parenting Coordinator discussed problems together more often. The “non-residential” parent (the parent who had the children for less of the time) participated more in the children’s discipline than parents who did not use a parenting plan. These nonresidential parents were more active in the daily lives of their children, even though the children did not live with them full time. These parents helped with everyday things like helping the children get dressed, make science projects, and shop for birthday cards. They were also more active in special events, school and church functions, sports, holidays, and vacations.



About Debra Carter

Dr. Carter is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist. She is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator and a Parent Coordinator. She is Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Director of the National Cooperative Parenting Center (NCPC) offering a wide spectrum of services to the Mental Health and Legal Communities as well as to families and children who are struggling with divorce related issues. She is, a frequent expert to the court, and an international speaker, lecturer and trainer on parenting in divorce. She is a consultant to the US Department of State in matters of international child custody.

Dr. Carter is the leader in the development of standardized Parental Responsibility Guidelines emphasizing the needs of children in divorce, which have been adopted and endorsed by the court. She has received numerous awards including the the prestigious “John E. Van Duzer Distinguished Service Award” from the International Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Her work can be found through Unhooked Books: