Divorce is a sad and all too frequent occurrence nowadays. It is destressing to witness the breakup of a previously loving relationship. As anxiety-provoking as the breakup of a marriage might be to the two principle parties, when there are children involved the stress can be significantly compounded.
Two individuals cannot simply disolve their union and go their separate ways when there are children to consider. Their parental roles keep them bound to one another. Open lines of communication are necessary in order to facilitate custody decisions, visitation rights and myriad other considerations on behalf of their mutual offspring.
While it is true that the courts can intervene when parents do not see eye to eye, how much better it would be if the two people who know the children better than anyone else could find a way to put their own grievances aside and focus on what is in the best interest of their children.
Mandatory parenting classes as a component of the entire divorce proceeding might be a viable solution. Raising parents’ awareness of how their discord might potentially affect their children in negative ways, and teaching the parents how to effectively communicate on the subject of their children in spite of their own differences, might make a positive difference in the lives of some children who are the product of divorce.
Parenting classes for divorcing parents might include:
Awareness and reality segment
Divorce has a major impact on family dynamics. Parents need to learn new ways to relate to one another and to their children going forward. Issues that were not previously thought about are now priority considerations. The agenda for the class might include a refresher course on the fragility of children’s emotions, potential reactions of various types of children and the responsibilities of both the custodial and non-custodial parent. Putting the children first should be the underlying lesson for parents.
Custodial parent protocol segment
A discussion of responsible protocol for the custodial parent would benefit both parents, in the event custody rotates or is shared. The hardships of single parenting and where the non-custodial parent fits into the picture could be discussed.
Non-custodial parent protocol segment
Both parents should have raised awareness of the difficulties endured by the non-custodial parent, who has the additional stress of being deprived of daily interaction with his/her children. This segment could also include visitation scheduling, provision for sharing unforseen financial needs of the children that are above and beyond the divorce settlement, and any potential extenuating circumstances, such as illness befalling either parent or the children.
Aligning parenting styles segment
This class might discuss the different parenting styles, how each potentially impacts children and techniques for working together amicably to preserve the children’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
Madatory parenting classes would force the parents to focus on the larger picture of the welfare of the entire family. Objective classroom discussions might help to eliminate the possibility of one parent discounting the other’s ideas and opinions without first hearing them out.
These are just a few of the potential possitive effects of having mandatory parenting classes inculcated into divorce proceedings.
Any efforts to ensure children do not become tragic casualties in the battleground of divorce would be a positive move.
custodial parent > mandatory parenting > parent protocol