Neutral Ground, LLC
All too often, separation and divorce result in stress, hostility and conflict that can easily distract parents from their responsibilities as parents. Parents, not courts, should have the ultimate responsibility for, and certainly are in the best position
to, make the decisions that are in their children’s best interests. Unfortunately inter-parental conflict displaces the parents’ ability to jointly raise and care for their children, resulting in the children inadvertently becoming “innocent
bystanders” of the conflict. Current research reveals that conflict between divorcing and separating parents puts children at a higher risk for having difficulty in developmental tasks, negatively impacting achievement not only in academic settings but
also social settings. Research also indicates that children from separated or divorced parents with significant conflict in their relationship, both pre- and post- separation/divorce, have a higher likelihood of difficulty in forming relationships as a child
and as an adult.
Even the most tightly structured parenting plan cannot overcome the dysfunction that results when parental interactions are fraught with conflict. When this conflict exists Neutral
Ground’s co-parenting skills workshop can make a difference.
Neutral Ground’s basic ten-hour program, Co-Parent Solutions, assists parents in redefining their role from adversaries to co-parent “business” partners. Parents
are taught, and helped to practice, the skills needed for improving their working relationship with one another as parents – skills needed to effectively, respectfully relate with one another in such a way as to avoid conflict and angry non-productive
interactions and to increase successful communication and joint problem solving. Parents also learn, and are helped to practice, skills for supporting their children as the children adjust to the challenges of the separation or divorce. For success in achieving
this goal of redefining their relationship, parents attend all three sessions together.
Co-Parent Solutions is not co-parent counseling. Rather, it is a skills-based program specifically designed to teach the mechanics of co-parenting. This program is considerably
more comprehensive than New Hampshire’s Child Impact Seminar and is not meant to replace the seminar, but instead is designed to reinforce, supplement, and put into practice information outlined in the seminar. At the successful conclusion of their participation
in the Co-Parent Solutions program, parents receive a Certificate of Completion.
Co-parenting exists when both of a child’s parents, once they are living apart, make arrangements for decision-making regarding their children and for contact with their
children. The “arrangement” is typically referred to as a “parenting plan” when it is formally created.
There are two general approaches to co-parenting: cooperative co-parenting and parallel co-parenting. Neutral Ground’s Co-Parent Solutions teaches skills needed for each.
Cooperative co-parenting involves a collaborative effort by the parents to regularly interact on behalf of the children: consulting with one another regarding the children’s
day-to-day care and making joint decisions in a way that fosters the children’s welfare.
Parallel co-parenting may be the necessary choice for parents whose history includes a pattern of domestic violence. Parallel co-parenting skills do not require direct, face-to-face
communications between co-parents but does emphasize a focus by each parent on the best interests of the children. Each parent has control over his or her parenting time and neither is expected to consult the other about daily routines or schedules.
The Co-Parent Solutions workshop is divided into approximately three,
3 ½ hour sessions. The sessions are scheduled one evening per week for three consecutive weeks.
The first session involves an intense focus on positive communications, ending with a comprehensive work-book based homework assignment that requires each parent to delve into
such topics as self care, cooperative parenting agreements,
making “polite requests”, and saying “thank you.”
The second session reviews the homework assignment and, through group participation, puts into practice the skills taught in the homework. The parents then move into the second
necessary phase of communication: being an effective “receiver” and an active listener to communication from both the other parent and the children.
By the third class the parents have been exposed to the concept of “business meetings” and learn how to move from the intimate marital relationship into the new relationship
of “business partners in the co-parenting workplace.” By the end of this final section the parents have been taught, and have practiced, the fundamental skills needed to effectively co-parent their children and understand the importance of remaining
committed to co-parenting.