Being a parent is something we need to learn, not something that we automatically acquire simply by aging, becoming an adult, or parenting a child. We have a very specific idea about what it means to be a good parent, simply put: it is to be a parent to your children in such a way that makes their one and only childhood the best possible time for them. This means we have to learn how to manage our own needs, wants, desires, and emotions in such a way that they don't become a barrier to good disciplining, providing consistent love and emotional warmth, and creating a safe and healthy environment for them.
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We have an agreement with Jefferson County Mediation Services which allows us to send parents to them who have conflicts over parenting time. They are skilled professional mediators and offer their time to our parents at no cost to either party. It is believed that a neutral setting and neutral co-mediator is the best way to help with these difficult issues. So rather than meeting with parents ourselves, we help set up this professional mediation time.
Please visit the Mediation Services web page for more information. If you have an active child support case with our office, we can make the referral, and they will waive all listed fees for you.
It may satisfy the court order, however all of the parents who participate in the Fatherhood Program or fatherhood class must do so voluntarily. We do this for two reasons: first, because the funding for the program requires voluntary participation; and, second, it is believed that programs like this are most beneficial to the participants when they choose to be there rather than being ordered to do so. If you want to explore the possibility of the fatherhood tune-up class meeting your court ordered requirements, then contact the Fatherhood Case Manager to see how to establish that process.
If you are not able to see your child/children then there is likely much grief and loss you are carrying around with you. You are not alone. Other parents are going through the same thing. Most parents find it useful to listen to others talk about these losses and how they are coping. Many people are not particularly good at knowing how these losses affect us and what we can or should do about them. The old "fight or flight" is the way many guys respond. There are better ways. While we are not a bunch of angry parents sitting around talking about how awful our co-parent is some people do talk with a lot of passion about what it is like for them to not be in their child/children’s lives. Almost all parents find just saying it out loud and being heard is helpful and makes their lives better. The Fatherhood Case Manager can help parents review court orders as it relates to parenting time and decision making responsibilities and help them navigate the judicial system while helping educate parents on how to preserve such responsibilities through the judicial or mediation process. While the Fatherhood Case Managers are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice, the program has aligned itself with community resources offering assistance to parents without the financial capacity to obtain legal representation.
It is never a waste of your time to invest in either being a better parent or helping others become better parents. While every one of our situations is a little different, we believe we benefit from sitting with a group of people that have one common denominator - we all love our children and want the best for them. The class is always better when we have other parents in it that can share stories about how they discipline their children without threats of violence or how they resolved a conflict with their co-parent. Even if you are a good parent now, as your children get older, your parenting skills will likely be tested even more.
Participating in the Fatherhood Program neither directly nor legally impacts your parenting time. Parenting time is sometimes decided by the court and is a different process however, if your co-parent believes you are not as good a parent as you could be, they may be more reluctant to negotiate with you for more parenting time. Participating in a Fatherhood Program and/or completing a fatherhood class can be a way in which you demonstrate your commitment to always becoming a better parent and co-parent. Remember, parenting is for a lifetime so, even if things may not change much immediately, it is always the long view that is the most important.
Fatherhood coaching is simply spending one-on-one time with the Fatherhood Case Manager to talk about the challenges of being a parent in your current situation. Parents explore what options are available and how they might let their child/children know that they are still important to them. Parents find this one-on-one time particularly useful if they are stuck or are repeating patterns of conflict with their co-parent which they find difficult to change. Participation is voluntary.