Parents have all heard it: There's no road map for child rearing.
Which makes parenting all the more difficult when that road hits a fork and couples split up.
"When you're moving from a one-family home to a two-family home, you're still a family but you're a family apart," said Elizabeth Bader, founder of Positive Co-Parenting. "Managing all the logistics can be very challenging to a divorced couple, who may already have poor communication."
Bader, a single parent herself, has teamed up with Mariners Church to offer affordable co-parenting classes for divorced and separated spouses. The course, which costs $49 for about eight hours (either four two-hour sessions or one all-day session), takes parents along a 13-point plan for their families.
"What I provide is to help parents create a tangible action plan for their homes," she said.
The certified life coach walks parents through building skills in key areas such as communication, sharing of responsibilities — such as who holds onto medical and academic records — and conflict resolution.
Class registration is open now and sessions meet from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 10, 17, 24 and 31, or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 2. Space is limited to 12 people and can be reserved at marinerschurch.org/coparenting.
Bader recommends that parents attend the classes separately — the sessions are no place to hash out your personal grievances, she said.
If parents can't attend the classes at Mariners, Bader also offers her time at about $75 per hour through her business, Positive Co-Parenting.
The most important value is the lasting impact upon the children of divorced and separated couples, she said.
"Co-parenting is a choice and you have to choose your child's well-being," Bader said. "What we know for sure is that whether you're an intact family or a family apart, conflict is the No. 1 psychological deterrent for children to grow up as healthy adults."
Parents don't need to wait for Bader's class.
Bader recommends couples start by making the choice to put their children's needs above their own and keep any lingering resentment about their partner separate from the family relationship.
"You're still a family, just a family apart," Elizabeth Bader said. "And you can still be a great family."