The Father Factor is an eight week parenting course that builds off of The Art of Positive Parenting’s value system. Although every man brings a unique set of experiences to his role as a father, there are a multitude of shared struggles that single fathers face. The curriculum was originally designed to increase communication between fathers and their children but class facilitator, Glen A. Harris, is taking things a step further by teaching the importance of having healthy communication between fathers and the mothers of their children.

Co-parenting can be a rocky road and a lack of communication between parents only makes it harder to navigate. Fathers are typically only granted partial custody of their children meaning the majority of their time is spent with their mothers.  By being unable to hold a friendly conversation with mom, you are limiting the access you have to your child. If the two of you can’t talk without arguing then she is far less likely to share any updates or concerns she has about your child. A better relationship with the mother will create a better relationship with your child. The two of you don’t have to like to each other, but in order to give your child the support he or she needs, you have to communicate.

Establishing communication can be a slow process, so be patient! The first step is to practice effective listening techniques. Roadblocks are habitual responses that interfere with positive communication. Some examples are criticism, threats, labeling, blaming or comparing, and preaching. Other forms of roadblocks that may seem less damaging include offering a suggestion too quickly or diverting the speaker off of their issue and onto something else. As co-parents, both points of view should be honored, which requires listening to what the other parent has to say. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget that listening isn’t about waiting for our turn to talk but is instead about empathizing with a person and their situation in order to reach a point of understanding and compromise.

When speaking with the other parent do your best not to bicker or argue. Avoid hostility by using a calm tone and keep your cool even if the conversation isn’t going your way. Even if mom begins to get upset and yell, do not raise your voice. Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right and giving into anger will not get you anywhere. It only takes one person to reduce a power struggle! Although it may take time, the longer you go without giving in to hostility the closer you are to estabishing healthy communication. Set an example for how one parent should respond to the other.

Disagreements are going to happen within co-parenting relationships. To think that two people will share (all) the same views in regards to their child is unrealistic. So, be ready for disagreements because they will happen and when they do they should not be avoided. Never side-step an issue just because it may lead to confrontation. As long as you have the skills you need to handle a dispute with dignity and self-care it really shouldn’t become too big of an issue. When disagreements take place, however, you may feel an urge to become defensive. Defensiveness is another factor that blocks positive communication and prevents growth. Instead, practice listening and use descriptive messages such as “I don’t see it that way” or “I have a different opinion of what is best” to express how you feel.  Treat the co-parent as if you are in a business relationship and leave intense emotions out of the conversation.

Improving communication with your co-parent is key to having a successful relationship with your child. When the two of you fight, he or she is the one who suffers the most. When conflict arises remember that you and the other parent share the same goal, which is the ultimate well-being of your child. In order to fully respect your child, you must respect the other parent as well. If you are a father interested in maximizing your involvement in your children’s lives contact Glen Harris at 614-224-0222 and ask about The Father Factor. Co-parenting can be dramatic but it doesn’t have to be!

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