Some people say they are born to be great parents. Others have great parenting thrust upon them. You know, like when a court tells you, “Straight up, you and your ex (or the mother of your children) have to go to co-parenting classes.” The Circuit Court in Virginia that orders this is, essentially, driving home the reality that Virginia always keeps the best interests of Virginia’s children first. Co-parenting class need not be a millstone around your neck. Here’s why.
Parenting is Not Co-parenting
You and your ex (or baby mama or what-have-you) may have been mediocre, great or terrible parents. That has little to do with how you cooperant. Being a parent is biology first, psychology second, and (to be honest!) animal husbandry third:
- Biology: Bathe babies, explain that cooties do not really exist, change the poopy diaper, scrape spaghetti sauce off the dining room wall …
- Psychology: Say “We’ll see” eleventy-thousand times. Go online to find out why the sky really is blue (Rayleigh scattering) …
- Animal husbandry: “Fine. Don’t eat it for dinner. It’s now tomorrow’s breakfast.”
Being a co-parent is a different job entirely. You have to deal with children, yes, but you also have to acknowledge the fissures created when your union, your marriage, dissolved. Perhaps the two of you never married, but you separate while wanting to continue seeing your own children. You still face challenges.
You have to deal with practical issues with a woman scorned, hurt, spurned or angry. You have to deal with your own anger. You have to relate to your children in a new and uncomfortable way.
Most hospitals that shepherd expectant parents through nine months and into labor expect — require — the parents to take parenting classes. It follows then, that a Virginia divorce court may impose co-parenting classes on expectant divorcing parents. And if you and your children’s mother never married, you may find co-parenting classes makes her easier to deal with.
You take a co-parenting class to learn to be a better human being to your own children. You learn to navigate that dangerous chasm you and your ex created when you divorced or parted. That distance could place the two of you inches or miles apart, but every time you need to interact about the children you two produced, that chasm needs to be crossed.
A co-parenting class can help you with:
- Your ex
- Your extended family
- Your work/home balance
More Than You Know
Despite the myth that some people are naturally good parents, ample evidence exists that parenting is a skill that can be taught. Co-parenting is definitely not an instinctive gift. Whether you take a co-parenting class online through some of the many resources available in Virginia or an in-person class, you will learn more in the class than you know now.
You will learn how to see your divorce or separation through your children’s eyes. You will also learn how to:
- Reduce stress symptoms in your children, by reducing parental conflict
- Keep you and the children’s mother actively involved
- Reassure your children that they need not choose between parents
- Create a relaxed, wholesome home atmosphere
- Reduce the chances your children end up dropping out of school, struggling with adolescent drug and alcohol problems, crime, or teen pregnancy
- Help your child feel loved and accepted
Last Shall Be First
You say divorcing is for the good of your children, but truly you feel you will be better off without that woman around. Even if you and the children’s mother never married and you opt to part ways, you are thinking about a brighter future for yourself, not for your kids.
And that’s ok. But those kids … they must come first. The court sharpens that point and pokes you with it, and orders you into co-parenting class so you can learn to see divorce (or parting) from your kids’ perspective.
Virginia Beach and the entire Commonwealth are teeming with opportunities for co-parenting classes. Nearly all of them follow similar themes. The organization, Putting Kids First, for example, has a co-parenting class syllabus that looks something like this:
- Emotional effects of divorce
- Emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by children
- Parenting issues relating to specific developmental stages
- Stress indicators in children
- Conflict management
- Financial responsibilities of parenting
- Parenting plans
- Community resources and services
The greatest reason to take a co-parenting class? Your own children (Reason #11). Love them, keep them close, and learn to be a better parent by being a great cooperant. They deserve it.
For all your family law needs, turn to The Firm For Men. Contact us online or telephone our offices at 757-383-9184. We are dedicated to helping Virginia’s men in all aspects of family law, including parenting time, child visitation, custody, and more.