Smart Apart: The Value of a Parenting Course After Separation

The Value of a Parenting Course After Separation

One of the best resources to help navigate the difficult process of separation and divorce is a parenting course. Accessible in both Alberta (‘Parenting After Separation’) and British Columbia (‘Parenting After Separation Program’), these courses teach the importance of co-parenting, and ensuring children’s health, social, educational and emotional needs are met moving forward. 

Additionally, the courses encourage parents to engage in mediation or other dispute resolution options, and are often required by the Courts before bringing any parenting application.

What is typically explored in a parenting course? Many topics, including: 

  • The legal process of separation or divorce;
  • Dispute resolution options like mediation; 
  • Skills that help children adjust after separation or divorce; 
  • How children at different ages respond to separation or divorce, warning signs of stress at each age, and what you can do to help your children cope; 
  • How to prepare a parenting plan. 

Key information from the Court may include:

Relationship Building Blocks

  • Ensuring children feel secure that both parents still love them and will continue to care for them in a meaningful, consistent way;
  • Teaching attitudes and behaviours to parent individually;
  • Teaching co-parenting to care for children’s well-being, encourage respect for the other parent, and actively support the other parent’s time and involvement.

Children’s Resilience 

  • Making separation or divorce as painless as possible for children, not centring them in adult conflicts, and avoiding the child becoming friend or caretaker.
  • Understanding what is hard for your child at any point, how to make things easier, and what your children can or cannot handle.
  • Anticipating what will be most difficult for the child based on their temperament, and tailoring parenting behaviours and planning accordingly; 
  • Acknowledging children need to continue having a relationship with both parents whenever possible. 

Learning the legal system

  • Maximizing contact with both parents to help children maintain their emotional connections;
  • Understanding child support is a right – it cannot be bargained away; 
  • Exploring different options for dispute resolution such as mediation or collaborative family law before taking your decision to a Justice; 
  • Learning Judicial Dispute Resolution, or JDR, is where a judge meets with parents to discuss any matters still in dispute without making a decision.

Parenting plans that work for your family

  • Implementing parenting plans that are practical and meet the children’s needs;
  • Ensuring children’s voices are heard and respected during the separation, even though the final decision rests with the parents; 
  • Accounting for each parent’s ‘alone time’ with children; 
  • Being consistent and flexible in parenting schedules in order to honour commitments.  

For more information about parenting courses and being smart apart, contact us for a free strategy session with a Legal Navigator at Coach My Case.