About parenting coordination
Could parenting coordination help to support my separated family?
Parenting coordination is suitable for separated parents who:
- have in place a parenting agreement or court order and find communicating about childcare arrangements challenging
- recognise that challenging communication is likely to impact their children’s and their own wellbeing; and
- with professional support, wish to explore ways of working together to improve the experience for everyone.
In partnership with their parenting coordinator, parents take time to work to understand the multi-layered challenges they are experiencing as they transition from a couple, to a new but vitally important long-term relationship as separated parents.
By supporting parents to develop skills and tools they can use to communicate together more mindfully, respectfully and constructively, parenting coordinators in turn help parents enhance the emotional support and positive role-modelling they are able to offer their children.
How do parenting coordinators help?
Parenting coordinators help by:
- listening to both parents’ points of view
- helping parents to hear one another’s concerns and objectives
- helping parents to bear in mind the thoughts and feelings of their children
- helping parents decide together how they can manage all the practical arrangements for children in a positive way as life continues in two households.
Simply put, research tells us that lower levels of parental conflict correlate to better outcomes for children. This applies in all areas of their lives, both now and throughout their lifetimes: with friendships, within families, academically, professionally and personally.1
What will parenting coordination be like?
Typically, a parenting coordinator has a number of roles:
- As a coach – to support parents to identify and overcome negative cycles of communication that results in them becoming “stuck” in conflict. Parenting coordinators help parents find ways to hear and take on board one another’s points of view and to establish and embed new methods of communication that will assist them to address parenting issues more effectively and positively.
- As an educator – to help parents identify and understand the effects of impaired parental communication on children. To look together at (1) ways in which children react to parental conflict; (2) what parents can do to ensure they minimise parental conflict; and (3) to communicate in ways that positively affect and support their children.
- To empower – to help parents work together to consider their children’s immediate and longer term needs in order to consciously create an improved future narrative for everyone in the family. It can be helpful for parents to look to the future and consider what they will want their children to say about their own childhoods when they look back as adults.
- As a mediator – to support parents to make parenting decisions, or decisions about their children’s day-to-day care in accordance with any parenting agreement or court order. For example, if a court order states that children will enjoy half their school holiday time with each parent, a parenting coordinator can assist parents to discuss and agree how this will shape up for the forthcoming school calendar year.
- As a decision maker – in certain limited cases, parents may invite their parenting coordinator to make a binding parenting decision for them. For example, if a parent has asked the other to agree to swap a weekend to accommodate a family event, and the other doesn’t agree, the parenting coordinator could decide for them and their decision would be binding.
Parenting coordinators have a professional background as a family lawyer or as a mental health professional experienced in working with separated families. All are qualified mediators. You can read about your local parenting coordinators by searching on the Meet us page.
- See for example, the Early Intervention Foundation.