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How Does Co-Parenting Counseling Work?

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Parenting isn’t easy, especially if you are in a co-parenting situation. It can be difficult to effectively communicate with a previous partner about your child’s wellbeing without letting emotions or arguments get out of hand. Co-parenting counseling can help. Through professional counseling, you will learn healthy communication skills, conflict resolution, and strong parenting skills. 


What is co-parenting?

Co-parenting is an agreement between individuals who are divorced, separated, or never married and live apart but share the custody and care of their child(ren). While your relationship with that person is over, the family aspect and raising a child is not. This agreement can be a nightmare for some. It can bring up old wounds and heartache for some as they regularly talk with their previous partner. That’s where co-parenting counseling can help.


What are the Three Types of Co-Parenting?

The three types of co-parenting are:

  • High conflict co-parenting
  • Parallel co-parenting
  • Cooperative & collaborative co-parenting


1. High Conflict Co-Parenting

High conflict co-parenting is the most challenging of the three types. Emotions run high in this type of co-parenting, with past relationship arguments leading to blaming and verbal insults. Communication between co-parents can be difficult and is often made through a third party like a lawyer or another family member. In a worst-case scenario, the child(ren) is put in an uncomfortable situation as the go-between communicator for both parents. This type of co-parenting can be exhausting for the entire family. Worst of all, it is very toxic for the child(ren) stuck in the middle.

The best way to handle being in a high conflict co-parenting situation is to set up an appointment with a co-parenting counselor, avoid direct contact with the other co-parent, and focus on your child(ren)’s needs. 


2. Parallel Co-Parenting

Parallel co-parenting works for separated couples who may not like each other but tolerate each other for their child(ren)’s sake. This type of co-parenting relationship is more professional than personal. The parallel co-parents usually ignore each other, live separate lives, and rarely communicate. When they talk, it is usually to share schedules and come together to decide on large issues that affect their child(ren). Usually, these meetings are business-like, with no personal exchanges or information shared between them.

This co-parenting style can sometimes be the easiest. It allows the parents to focus on their child(ren)’s needs and at the same time on their own individual lives.


3. Cooperative & Collaborative Co-Parenting

Cooperative and collaborative co-parenting is the ideal style for children but can be challenging for parents to reach. In most cases, this style of co-parenting takes years to build. The cooperative and collaborative co-parenting style usually has low conflict, mutual respect, strong communication, and willingness to share parenting decisions. This style of co-parenting can help children understand how to problem solve, be respective, and communicate.

This co-parenting style may sound perfect, but it is very challenging to use. One if not both parents struggle with anger, bitterness, hurt, and or confusion after a divorce or separation. These emotions can affect their interactions with their previous partner and stop them from cooperating and collaborating.


A couple meets with a co-parenting counselor at their office.


What is Co-Parenting Counseling?

Co-parenting counseling focuses on helping parents learn new ways to communicate with each other, regain balance in their lives, manage their feelings, and discover new parenting strategies. Healthy communication between separated parents allows them to put their hurt and anger aside for the wellbeing of their child(ren). 


How Does Co-Parenting Counseling Work?

Co-parenting counseling focuses on reducing conflict, improving communication, and implementing new helpful parenting strategies. By focusing on these three main areas of co-parenting, a counselor will help you find ways to work through challenging moments and remain the best parent you can be.  


Reduce Conflict

Divorce or separation can be difficult for individuals to navigate. When a separated couple finds themselves in a co-parenting situation, there can be many emotions involved. Individuals can feel the burden of staying connected to a previous partner and their lives while trying to move forward with their own. Arguments and power struggles can become common, which will impact the parents’ and child(ren)’s mental health.

Co-parenting counseling will help individuals learn how to build healthy boundaries and master conflict resolution skills—helping parents focus on their child(ren)’s wellbeing and avoid more conflict with a previous partner.


Improve Communication

One of the most important aspects of co-parenting — and sometimes the most difficult — is communication. Healthy communication with a previous partner can help end conflict, focus on raising the child(ren) and allow each parent to move forward in their own lives. Co-parenting counseling will teach parents useful communication strategies. These strategies include learning how to talk about problems without bringing up the past, exchanging information while keeping personal lives separate, and scheduling time-sharing and important dates that focus on the child(ren).


Teach Helpful Parenting Strategies

Whether the divorce or separation was amicable or messy, this event in a person’s life can be very stressful and life-changing. It’s easy for parenting in a co-parenting relationship to come second to conflict with their exes. Counseling will help you refocus on becoming the best parent you can be to your child(ren) through this stressful time. Counselors will share strategies on how to understand what your child(ren) may be feeling and expressing, build healthy communication skills, and how to balance being a co-parent while also living your own life.


Find Out How We Can Help

Research proves that the presence of safe, healthy adults in the lives of children will lead to a positive outcome and help their overall wellbeing. A family counselor can be one of those safe adults. At Real Life Counseling, we focus on inspiring and empowering our clients to help families navigate the challenges that life throws our way. Learn more about us and how we can help you navigate parenting skills and manage the stress you may be facing as a co-parent.