• April 19, 2024
 ‘New Ways for Families’ provides essential skills and support for positive parenting amidst divorce

‘New Ways for Families’ provides essential skills and support for positive parenting amidst divorce

“New Ways For Families” programme coaches separating parents in simple conflict resolution skills to avoid high conflict hell for their children.

When their relationship breaks down and parents decide to separate, their own feelings of hurt or anger or shock often see their children being fought over rather than put first.

Children need their parents to make decisions not only about immediate arrangements but also take a longer term perspective on how to support their emotional and psychological wellbeing into adulthood.

Unfortunately, at the point of separation adults are often least able to see beyond their own feelings. But they can be helped.

New Ways for Families is an online training programme for parents going through separation or divorce. The programme is not legal advice or mediation. It is aimed at teaching and reinforcing four simple conflict resolution skills:

  • Managing emotions
  • Developing flexible thinking
  • Moderating behaviour
  • Reflecting and encouraging a solution-based approach to parenting.

The unique element of New Ways for Families training is that it is delivered through online learning  reinforced by personal one-to-one coaching. Each parent works individually with their coach who has a therapeutic/family law background and experience in working with high conflict family cases. Their role focusses on reinforcing the skills the parent has learned online.

The benefits of this learning for parents and their children are already well documented and compelling:

  • Reduces conflict and prevents toxic home environments
  • Promotes healthy child development (there is growing evidence that high conflict parental behaviour affects child development negatively)
  • Promotes mature decision making and shared parenting scheduling
  • Reduces the financial burden to families by keeping them out of court
  • Encourages children’s access to both parents

The course covers the key skills essential for constructive separation including understanding the effects of conflict on child development, co-parenting schedules, handling financial issues during separation, and avoiding becoming a high conflict case. There are 10 modules in all – approximately 12 – 18 hours learning time on average.

New Ways For Families was devised by the High Conflict Institute of San Diego, California. It was piloted for the UK in Scotland during 2022 and is now available throughout the England and Wales. A family judge in the North of England last week was the first to order both parents to undertake the programme, with the agreement of both lawyers.

The pilot in Scotland was independently evaluated by Canadian academic, Professor Jeff Chang, through questionnaires completed by learners and by coaches. He also carried out individual interviews with a sample of participants as well as focus groups.

One of the parents who has completed the programme said, “This pilot has been extremely helpful in helping me find different ways of parenting separately and avoiding conflict with my ex-partner.”

A family lawyer who trained to be a coach on the programme said, “As a lawyer, I hope the skills the online programme and coaches teach may become generally recognised by the profession and used in their day-to-day practice. I hope family practitioners will refer separated parents to it even before conflict has arisen to teach them the skills to avoid it.”

The programme of training and coaching costs £295, with subsidised places for parents on low income or benefit.

For further information contact Ian Maxwell on 07887 500667. Ian will be attending the Today’s Family Lawyer Conference.

Shared Parenting Scotland is Scotland’s foremost shared parenting charity. For further information visit www.sharedparenting.scot. Shared Parenting Scotland was renamed and relaunched on February 10th 2020.  Shared Parenting Scotland supports non-resident mothers as well as fathers, new partners, grandparents and wider family members.

Shared Parenting Scotland

Shared parenting is where parents share the care and responsibilities for their children as equally as possible. This should happen in all families, but it often becomes an issue when the parents separate and start living apart.

Shared parenting takes a flexible, child-centred approach where the child’s welfare and wellbeing are central to parenting. There is increasing evidence that it can provide a healthy and supportive environment to bring up children after separation. See the International Council on Shared Parenting knowhow section for a roundup of myths and truth about shared parenting.

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