Still building connections – for separated parents
When parents are engaged with post-separation services and are attempting to negotiate workable parenting arrangements for their children it can be difficult for them to see past the conflict to focus on their children’s needs and wants. Building Connections (BC) was developed in 2006 as a way of helping parents to set their conflict aside in the interests of their children. BC is currently facilitated across Australia by a number of family relationship service agencies.
Over one 3-hour session, parents consider the effect of the separation and conflict on their children, learn ways to open or improve communication with their ex-partner, and think about how they can change their own behaviour in order to reduce their children’s exposure to the parental conflict. Rather than telling them they are bad parents, the program acknowledges that parents may also be struggling to cope with the separation and gives time to considering the need for them to take care of their wellbeing.
The program is psycho-educational in nature and aims to help parents gain knowledge and insight to support changes in their parenting behaviour, foster healthy and constructive ways to connect with their children, and communicate with the other parent in a civil and child-focused way. The programs uses a range of activities to engage and motivate parents whilst also assisting them to reflect on where they are in their separation journey. One of the central tools of the program are video clips of former BC participants explaining their experience of moving on from the conflict to managing the relationship with the other parent in ways that work better for their children.
Utilising client feedback and the practice wisdom of senior group workers at Interrelate, the program has recently been revised, with updated materials and information. New video clips are currently being developed.
This presentation will outline and share examples from the re-developed program. We will also discuss the evaluation of the program and report on the results of participant feedback.
Robyn Parker is Senior Manager, Research & Evaluation at Interrelate. Robyn has a Master of Science (Psychology). Her work in the service sector began in 2012, after 14 years at the Australian Institute of Family Studies writing on a range of topics related to couple and family relationships.