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What Exactly Is a Parenting Coordinator?

What is Parenting Coordination you ask? While it is tempting to give a quick definition based upon the Florida legislative vision of what it is supposed to be, the vitriol which some writers have heaped upon it requires a more in-depth answer.

When I returned to law school in my early forties, I was not going to law school because I didn’t have anything to do at home. At the time, law school was one of the most highly competitive schools a young person could attempt and, it was a nearly impossible task for a change of lifer with a family, and a full set of grown up responsibilities. I went to law school to study Constitutional and Environmental law. I ended up practicing family, administrative and criminal law.

Family court is an interesting place to practice law. It is the place where the most important people in our lives, the very fabric of who we are, are affected by every decision, every action, and every failure to act. Kindness to your ex can be used against you and an agreement to modify the schedule for a special occasion may become a demand to modify it whenever and wherever it is demanded. It is a place where grandparents can become the enemy, and significant others give world wars an inferiority complex.

Parenting coordination in Florida was proposed several years before its eventual enactment. It was passed by the legislature, but vetoed by then Governor Jeb Bush. He believed the original concept granted too many powers to the parenting coordinator and not enough court supervision. The idea was modified several times, and there were many reports and committees working together to try to find a good balance for the parents, the children, the courts and the overall family structure while still protecting vital individual rights. It was signed into law by Governor Charlie Christ in 2009 and adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in 2010.

Florida Statutes: 61.125 states: “The purpose of parenting coordination is to provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process whereby a parenting coordinator assists the parents in creating or implementing a parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between the parents by providing education, making recommendations, and, with the prior approval of the parents and the court, making limited decisions within the scope of the court’s order of referral.” The statute clarifies that where there is a judgment or order in which a parenting plan has been established, that the parents can request, or the court can appoint, a parenting coordinator to assist the parents in resolving disputes concerning that parenting plan.

Okay…in English. If the court orders or adopts a parenting plan, and the parents can’t seem to work together to carry out that plan, the court can appoint a parenting coordinator to help them. The court gives the parenting coordinator the authority to use many different resources to help the parents. The key words here are “court orders or adopts a parenting plan.”

Parenting is a very hard job. Probably one of the hardest things we do in our lives. When there are two people working together to raise children, we have to face the challenges with a united front, or at least try. What happens when we can’t do that? What happens when we decide to split up and try to raise the children together…apart? What happens to the grandparents? Who takes the kids to school? Who goes home from work when the kids get sick? What happens when we meet someone else and they become involved with the children?

All of these questions can lead to stress and tension even in the most amicable breakup. No one starts off believing that they will fight for 18 years over each child. But, sadly, it happens. It happens to good people who mean well, and who are trying to do the best they can, taking care of the children they love. It happens to people who have been ordered by a court to do things with their children that they don’t want to do.

For years, the court system has tried to work with parents to fashion solutions that are in the best interest of the children. The court does the best it can with the information it is given. Unfortunately, that information is limited by time, the quality and/or presence of attorneys, and the individual sitting on the bench. Over the past 30 years mediation has gone far to assist parents and the courts in reaching more personalized solutions for individual families. For the majority of parents that system works.

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When Parent Involvement Is Not Optional

I use this term because it is unique from the traditional procedures of finding residential help for struggling teens. These are troubled children who have enough problems they need a residential experience where they cannot manipulate their parents or others around them. To be successful with these children the residential program must have skilled staff working with them 24 hours a day. Traditionally, when a parent had an “acting out” child, the usual procedure was to go to some professional for help. The parent might go to a Doctor, hoping the Doctor could find a place or therapist that would help, or go to State Social Services and hope the problem was serious enough that the state would place the child in a suitable place. Or, if the child was doing something illegal, the parent might even report the child hoping the court system and Juvenile Justice could give him/her the help needed. In this traditional procedure, the professional was the decision maker and the parents were mostly passive bystanders in both finding a suitable place and in the treatment. The model these professionals often had were the parents were the problem, and professionals were the solution.

Although society has come a long way from those days, I still at times find this old attitude on the part of some professionals who by their actions, and sometimes by their words, seem to be telling the parents – “You screwed up your kid. Bring him/her to us, don’t bother us, and we’ll fix the child.”

With this attitude and philosophy, parents are optional. Of course, many professionals working with kids, placed by professionals, make attempts to involve the parents in the intervention. Still, everybody knows parents involved with this kind of program are optional, powerless and could be removed from the intervention at any time some professional thinks they are being a bother. The only antidote to this sense of powerlessness is Parent Empowerment through the parents having real responsibility and power in decision-making regarding their child.

All the research I’ve read has concluded the most important factor in a child’s education, healing or even just growing up is the involvement of the parents. The Internet is full of tips and ideas for professionals about how to get parents more involved in both their children’s schools and in his/her healing. The problem is most of these efforts are attempts to get parents to do what the professionals want done, in the way the professionals want. The net result is that parents are still relatively powerless, with limited responsibilities, and they often act accordingly – with lukewarm involvement. Not only do parents in this situation sometimes feel powerless and thus show modest interest, they sometimes also get the sense of entitlement – which means they think they deserve the service without having to do anything on their own.

One example that comes to mind is a situation I watched when a public school district needing money for play ground equipment for the children asked the school parent group to help. A chili feed was put together and financially it was a success, raising enough money for the equipment. This was good, but I noticed among the parents were doctors, lawyers, contractors and many other parents with successful careers.

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Child Behavior Issues and General Parenting Methods

Sensible and reasonable parenting techniques demand for manners and etiquette that should be learned by children positively and convincingly. It is a well known fact that now children are more sharp and active as compared to the old generation. Former and outdated parenting tips and strategies have proved futile when applied on the new generation. Old parenting myths are no more valid and effective on children now. For this purpose certain valuable and effective parenting strategies should be adopted by the parents to get positive influence over their children. Old fashioned parenting methods should be abolished and given up now because of their futility.

To empower the behavior of the children, parents need to apply certain parenting tips in order to grow them up with good manners. Appropriate behavior and proper training on learning the social etiquette nicely is all about parenting tips. Some effective parenting methods on well-mannered children are discussed here for a broader view on this topic. Following and then properly executing these tips will prove helpful for those parents who crave to know about parenting tips and methods.

Basic and root level manners:

Best parenting ideas always initiate with the concept of expecting less from young ones and let them know the etiquette from the root level to avoid later problems. Easy concepts of conduct can be taught to them with parenting tips including sharing and eating properly with a good hygienic system. Exchange of gifts and greetings is also a sign of manners. As child grow, modify your parenting tips according to the age of child and give him composite lessons on manners.

Manners:

Manners are basic constituent of the personality of a child. It can be a really hard and challenging task for parents to teach the right set of manners and etiquette to their offspring. With the emergence of new generation, the conventional manners are going to be vanished gradually. The rebellious vein running through modern society has taken the place of manners. But still it is possible to imbue the kids with manners from grass level that will go with his personality as he will grow young. Manners shape the person according to the social norms and skills and also serve as a tool in his future life.

Parents are model:

Parents should first set example before the kids as it will not be sufficient to convey message to them and expect for a well mannered child. A child wants to see his parents do whatever they preach. In other words parents should be a role model for the children so that they start reverence for them and want to become like their parents. Children learn quickly and they get the gist of whatever they watch minutely. Manners are acquired naturally so the children just need a push by the parents and formation of their behavior start developing accordingly.

Proper use of authority:

If kids are not showing proper mannerism then use of command by the parents is mandatory. Peer interaction with child is also affective for toning child behaviorism and these are more helpful on initial level. As the child will grow up, he will naturally develop a habit of negative manners and then it will become hard to handle him. So, early childhood is the best time to teach manners to them.

Parenting classes:

As there is no availability on parenting skills worksheets, it is prudent for the parents to go for classes on parenting. They will get sufficient instructions on fundamental parenting styles that will be acceptable by the children when applied.

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Ten Points to Reduce the Stress of Parenting

Parenting is the most difficult and most important job we ever do. Unfortunately, despite the degree of difficulty and importance of the work, no one teaches us how to do it. Fortunately, there are many child raising experts who can help. I will mention a few experts; whose work I believe is valuable, throughout this article and I encourage readers to find experts whose work they like.

• Parents must be healthy, physically and psychologically. When parents feel comfortable with who they are they are free to give their children true, deep, unconditional love. Parenting is not about the parents, no child has ever asked to be born. A child’s very existence is the responsibility of the parents, and it is the parent’s responsibility to raise their children using healthy parenting skills. Parents must be able to understand why children behave as they do and not take a child’s (from 1 day old to 18 years) behaviors personally. Jean Piaget made wonderful progress in the understanding of child development. A child’s behaviors are not about the parent, and it’s the parent’s responsibility to help children learn how to manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, so they can grow up to be healthy members of society. This takes tremendous self-awareness from parents. Self awareness leads to awareness and understanding of others.

• Unconditional love involves praising children as much and often as possible. This does not mean unrealistic praise, because children intuitively know when they have not earned praise. It does mean age appropriate praise. So, when an infant focuses on someone’s face and smiles at the person, praise is appropriate, because the infant is just beginning to learn how to interact. It is appropriate to praise babies when they take their first steps, because walking is a skill they need to learn. Praising a toddler for making scribbles on a piece of paper is appropriate, because the toddler is just learning how to do this. Victor Lowenfeld defined the stages of art development children go through. Praising toddlers for eating a few bites of healthy food, before they get a sweet is appropriate, because although babies crave sugar, it is important for them to learn how to eat healthy food. Praising a three-year-old for learning to use the potty is appropriate. The human brain is not fully formed until we are in our early 20s. Praising children, appropriately and according to their stage of growth, is important throughout childhood. This builds their self esteem and happier children reduce the stress of parenting.

• Playing with children is another way to give them unconditional love. The more you enjoy playing with your children the less stressful your job will be. Playing with your children is bonding with them, which parents and children need. Indeed, there is a book titled; “Play; How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul,” by Stuart Brown and Christopher Vaughn. One of the chapters is titled “Parenthood is Child’s play.” Doing some research about play with children will help you use approaches to playing with them that are age-appropriate. Learning about age-appropriate play is an investment in your relationship with your children which will help you feel less stressed. It is also important to play with children using a variety of areas of play so they may become well-rounded adults. If you like using art supplies, it is best to start using those supplies with children, early, during their formative years, because they will grow into enjoying that sort of activity. The same is true with physical activity. If that is something you want your children to learn to enjoy, the earlier you begin to teach them how to enjoy physical activity, the better. Play is not something that can be forced. If you want your children to enjoy swimming, don’t try to force them to do it. If they don’t seem to enjoy doing it now, but see that you enjoy doing it (by example) they may take it up later in life. Music is another area of play that can bring great pleasure to most people. However, if it is forced on children they might rebel against it and never get to enjoy it. Parenting is a balancing act!

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Parent Coaching (Part III) – What is Parent Coaching?

A painted picture will emerge that will identify the differences, benefits, and features inherent in or natural to the Parent Coaching process. Coaching differs from mentoring in that the coach is often out of, or retired from his or her career, while the mentor’s career is still active. Coaching and mentoring can be either paid or volunteer service. Some of the features are benefits and vice-versa.

This is the practice and application of guiding parents to effective and efficient parenting methods and skills, so that the parents can create their own successful parenting plan and family life. Parenting, after all, can be a daunting task. Primarily parent coaching is literally a process by which a person (the coach) helps identify parenting strengths and weaknesses. This coach supports the strengths, and suggests or directs the parent towards parenting solutions. RAH, RAH… Sis… Boom… Bah! Exactly. The parent-coach is a cross between a cheerleader and a tough football coach. Not unlike a football coach, the coach is teaching a younger generation based on his or her career and life experiences.

How will Parent Coaching Help Parents Change the Unwanted Behaviors in their Children?

Parenting success occurs through encouragement, motivation, training through direction, and teaching through education. The parent-coach guides the parents to success towards the parents’ own single definite end goal.

A parent-coach serves families, is dedicated to making a difference, and seeks to accomplish the goals of the parents through understanding the family relationships. Practicing the communication skills learned, parents will be well on their way to finding parenting solutions.

Parent coaching is the everyday achievement of parenting goals, and an empowerment model of support. It uses challenges, goal setting, and encouraging the parents to accept accountability for decisions and actions. Parent coaches, as the name implies, are there to serve the parents, to be a support, a mentor, and a clarifier.

Either one or both parents can be supported with this process. For instance, the parent-coach will perhaps deal with stress, help the family to communicate more effectively, or to solve discipline problems. Through this process, parents will discover how to set goals, to be accountable for the actions and decisions, and to accomplish a set communication strategy.

In many family situations, parents usually have a specific issue. An example might be helping a child study better, or solve a particular discipline problem. Parent coaching connects with the strengths, the style of relating to the world, the temperaments, and the skills of the parents. As necessary, the parents will be presented with specific methodology, template tools, and a system that follows the parents’ goals and style.

What are the Characteristics of the Professional Parent Coaching Process?

Being a parenting guide requires experience and wisdom, the ability to share effectively this knowledge and wisdom, and the techniques to be completely understood. In addition, this parenting guide will have the ability to approach people without being inflammatory, and have the ability to empower and encourage them. A good parent-coach will give parents the chance to learn, on their own, by making a few mistakes. These positive attributes of the parenting coach are often gained through having given seminars and workshops.

As you might suspect, ‘parent coaching’ finds is roots in executive coaching and life coaching. As I understand it, executive coaching started about 20 years ago. How time flies. Life coaching has branched into several smaller groups that are more specialized. Life coaching started about 10 years ago. Besides parenting coaching, life coaching includes health coaching, wellness coaching, sickness coaching, and reading coaching to name just a few.