How can parenting education personally help me during my divorce?
One of the most important things I do in my life is teach a class called Break-through Parenting for parents going through divorce and custody. And, in that class, people go and connect with other people. Everybody there has that problem, therefore, you're not alone. The people that come to my class often have really difficult situations. And, it's helpful to know other people are going through a hard time, too. And, they learn from each other. That's a very valuable component. And, I teach advanced parenting skills – the skills that they need to resolve conflict, the skills they need to learn how to listen receptively, how to use statement sentences instead of questions, how to stop the blame game, all the serenity parenting stuff, how to be respectful in a situation where they don't feel respect. And, that's enormously valuable. Third, I expose them to a lot of the concepts about family law court, how to be prepared, how to do a parent plan, how to understand the powers that be, that are going to be making decisions for them if they can't make decisions for themselves.
How can parenting education help my custody case during my divorce?
Many, many attorneys refer their clients to my classes, that, particularly that child custody class, because, one, it looks good in court, but, two, it is good. Their clients become better people and they're more rational and they become more in touch with their emotions and able to handle their emotions without going into some crazy place. So many attorneys see the value and before there is ever a court order they will send them to my classes. Also, I asked a judge once, whose now the presiding judge of the family law courts, I said does it make a difference in your eyes if people go through a parenting class before they ever come to you. He said especially it makes a difference if before they come to me, that they were motivated to go to a parenting class. That's impressive. That shows this is a parent who is really devoted to their child and cares. That's better than if I order them to go. However, I've noticed that even when I order them to go, they come back saying one of the best things that ever happened to them. I've heard that many, many times out of the whole horrible problem of the divorce the best thing that happened to them was the classes they took.
When is parenting education required by the courts?
Parent education becomes required when it's court-ordered. I also work with parents who come from the Department of Children and Family Services. Their child may be in foster care; there's some issue or problem there. The parents need skills. So, a lot of social workers will routinely refer parents to parenting classes, to therapy, and to other kinds of services to help strengthen the family so that it can be reunified in a healthy way. So, often there are court orders. They see results; they order parenting classes because they see profound results. The point, in court, is to reduce the recidivism rate: people going back to court, back to court, asking a judge to solve problems. I'm just shocked that they have clients who go to court over a haircut! They go to court over who's going to do the invitation for this five-year-old's birthday party and things like that! The judges don't want to see those people in their court. The parents need to learn how to deal with basic problems without turning it into the drama I was mentioning.