One of the main causes of disputes in parenting matters upon separation is poor communication. The way parents communicate with each other can have a drastic effect on parenting arrangements and more particularly on whether those arrangements are in the best interest of children.
As lawyers we often refer our clients to third party organisations to assist them with communication issues and to help them to work on ways to resolve those issues.
Today we ask Kate Connolly from UnitingCare Queensland in Mackay to explain what our clients can expect when they undertake a post-separation parenting program which is offered by their organisation to address the issues of communication between separating parents.
- What is a Post Separation Parenting Program and what will our clients gain from attending?
Children from separated families fare best when they have close relationships with each of their parents and when post separation, their parents communicate and co-operate around their children’s needs. The program helps separated parents understand how parental conflict affects children and that it is not the divorce or separation that has long lasting effects on children, but the conflict they experience during and following the separation. The program offers effective ways not only to minimize the effects of separation on your kids, but also strengthen the bond between you and your children. This program shows how to give your children the support and guidance they need, and offers solutions to the most critical parenting problems separation brings. It offers tips and strategies on dealing with the separation, from gently explaining things to your children to maintaining a sense of stability to taking care of yourself.
- How long does the program go for?
Clients have an initial appointment for assessment to explore the most appropriate intervention and support for the family. As everyone is different and experiences separation differently there is no set number of sessions for the completion of the program. Once people have attended several individual sessions, the program offers a group workshop that offers another layer of learning and assistance. The program is very individual and meets each participant where they are at and works at their own pace. The educational group workshop will usually take about 3 hours. After that, a certificate is issued stating that you have completed the program.
- Is this a one-on-one program or is it done in a group?
The program consists of one-to-one sessions and also offers a group educational workshop which runs for approximately 3 hours. The workshop will only have an average of 5 participants per workshop.
- Does the client have to attend the course with their ex-partner?
No. The PSCP counsellor only works with one parent.
- Can our clients do the program by correspondence or does it have to be face-to-face?
The program is completed through face to face contact however, there is also the option of phone sessions on some occasions where it may be difficult to attend in person. The workshop would have to be attended in person.
- Our client is a good parent, why should they do a post separation parenting program?
I always relay to parents that this is not a parenting program, but a co-parenting program. Most parents who come to our program are good parents and this is demonstrated by the fact that they’re interested in knowing how to do the best for their children in relation to the separation. It is about redefining your relationship with your ex-partner from having been a partner to simply being a co-parent and providing strategies and tools to help you communicate with the other parent about your children’s lives in order to build a safe, consistent, healthy environment for your children. This is often challenging if there are strong emotions present around the relationship breakdown, but that is where we can help.
- What is the cost of the program?
This service is free of charge.
- Does the program run outside of Mackay?
Yes. The program is offered in the surrounding areas of Bowen, Cannonvale, Moranbah and Sarina.