If a parent has no contact whatsoever with their child’s other parent, can they still attend the Parenting When Separated Course?


Parents Plus Facilitators Best Practice Question:

“I am planning to run a Parenting When Separated programme and have five parents signed up for the course. Many have previously completed the Early Years programme with me previously. I have three parents signed up who co-parent separately and have two parents signed up who have no contact whatsoever with their child’s other parent. I am concerned for the latter two parents attending the group as the material covered seems mostly applicable to parents who co-parent separately and really advocates for both parents to complete the course and build a common ground. I have read in the manual and it advised that the course facilitator try contact the other parent when they are not involved in the child’s life to try get them to attend a separate course and I have queried this with the parent who is attending the group and she has assured me that it is in the child’s best interest that I do not contact the other parent. What should I do when contacting the other parent is not an option? How do I accommodate the two parents who are parenting alone? I do not want to say this course is not for them as they were so excited about it and want support in this area”.

Answer: “It is a good idea to invite parents who are parenting alone to attend Parenting When Separated course once the decision is made collaboratively. Indeed many lone parents get a good deal from attending in terms of thinking through the issues for their own parenting and parts of the course directly refer to the challenges of lone parenting. In addition, attending the course also gives them space to think about the role or non-role of the other parent for their child and how they can talk about this to their children in a constructive way. During the course, some parents consider making a fresh contact with the other parent or with their extended family if they feel that is in the best interest of their children. In the screening it is a good idea to discuss these issues with them and even show them the rough content of the course so they can be sure it is right for them at this time. But if your parents are interested and motivated then by all means include them in the PWS course. As with all PPP courses make sure to collect feedback from them using the session rating forms so you can check in that the course is going well for them and adapt accordingly. Screening sessions are important in all the Parents Plus Programmes but they are particularly important for the Parenting When Separated course as you need to give the parent time and space to talk about their situation and you have the sometimes tricky issue of asking about the involvement of the other parent As you rightly say we do recommend that facilitators raise the question of whether to contact the other parent with a view to sharing with them information about the course and possibly finding them a place on a separate course for them. However, you always ask permission to do this from the attending parent and if they say they think this is not a good idea then I would suggest you trust their judgement on this. You can reopen this question once the course is completed if you think it important for the child”.

John Sharry, CEO Parents Plus