a workshop offered bya workshop offered by
Co-Parenting Specialist Chris Lewis EdS,Co-Parenting Specialist Chris Lewis EdS,
Maria Droste Counseling CenterMaria Droste Counseling Center
MA in Counseling from The College of New Jersey
EdS in Marriage and Family Therapy from TCNJ
Over ten years experience helping parents, couples and
families resolve conflict and improve communication
I’ve been there myself
Pretend you are a hostage negotiator
Stay in adult mode no matter what
Let the children be children
Keep the end goal in sight and don’t sweat the small stuff
Always “act as if” the other parent has the children’s best
interest at heart
Establish the tone of the
Use a calm voice and speak in a respectful manner no
matter what is coming back at you.
Be supportive and encouraging
about the outcome
“I’m sure we can find a solution that will work for all
“I know you want to get this resolved too; we both
agree on that so I’m confident we can come to a
Reinforce any positive movement toward
resolution on their part
“That’s great that you are willing to do that! It really makes a
difference. Thank you!”
(Reality check: Are you brimming with gratitude? Maybe not,
but remind yourself what this is all about: Reducing conflict
and minimizing harm to the children.)
Compromise whenever and wherever you
This will not only reduce conflict, but increase the odds
they will compromise down the line.
Listen actively, this helps to diffuse anger,
Summarize what they’ve said to ensure you
Affirm your understanding
Be aware of posture, non-verbal cues
Children need at least one parent who
is in control in order to feel safe --
BE THAT PARENT
Keep your interactions business-like
Speak in a polite and professional manner.
Have weekly phone/in person meetings for
planning, concerns, etc. Hold these meetings away
from the children.
Keep old marital issues OUT -- the marriage is
over. You are now a co-parenting partnership only.
Any other topics are off limits.
Don’t reciprocate bad behavior with
If the other parent is yelling, cursing, being verbally
abusive, tell them you will be happy to continue
when they have calmed down, then walk away or
A little visual imagery to help motivate you to stay in
Imagine your children watching both their parents
act like angry, tantruming toddlers. What would
they be thinking and feeling?
You do need support people in your
life, but your children are NOT those
Get support from friends, clergy, counselors,
Your job is to support your children. You can’t do
that if you are leaning on them for your own
Don’ts and Don’ts:
Don’t use your children as spies
Don’t use your children as messengers
Don’t ever bad-mouth the other parent to or in front
of your children
Don’t fight in front of the children
Don’t talk about failed marital issues with kids
Chris’s goal of parenting:
To bring your children safely to adulthood with the
emotional, social, psychological tools they need to live
Make your own goal for parenting your children and use it
as your guiding principle.
Children survive different parenting styles a lot better than
they survive ongoing conflict. What’s the small stuff?
Is bedtime really worth fighting over?
Is diet?, clothing?, TV time?
Is exact “equal time” more about us or about what’s best
for the kids?
Why do I have to do that? For the most
important reason of all:
Because your children need to believe you BOTH
have their best interest at heart.
Unless there is real abuse happening, they
probably do love their kids to the best of their
If you “act as if” toward the other parent, this is
likely to reduce conflict on its own because he/she
will respond to your more positive regard. Try it!
Pretend to be a hostage negotiator
Stay in adult mode at all times
Let your children be children
Keep the end goal of parenting in sight and don’t
sweat the small stuff
“Act as if” the other parent has your children’s best
interest at heart
The Co-Parenting Survival Guide: Letting
Go Of Conflict After a Difficult Divorce, by
Elizabeth Thayer, PhD
For more information about co-parenting
counseling, family therapy, or marriage
counseling in Denver, Colorado,
contact Maria Droste Counseling Center at
303-756-9052 or visit