What Does "Child Inclusive" Mean?
CPR is a resource for parents who are either no longer living together or who have never lived together, as well as those who were married or not. CPR is available to parents who want to learn to co-parent their children in a peaceful and productive manner. Through research and experience, the CPR authors and providers have learned that including the children's thoughts and perspective as to how they are doing and how their parents are working together can be very motivating and beneficial for parents. We, at CPR, have incorporated this important "child-inclusive" factor into our course. Many parents and attorneys wonder how we do this without creating yet another intrusion for the children or focusing negatively on parents. CPR staff has years of experience in working with children of all ages, child development, play therapy, children and divorce, custody disputes, family therapy, and reintegration therapy. We take great care in how we interact with the children in the CPR process. We first obtain the children's permission to share information from them with their parents, so that their parents can better understand their perspectives. We have created tools that are age and developmentally appropriate for all children that will allow the child an avenue of expression of their experiences in having two families and in dealing with their parents' relational issues. An example of this may be a drawing exercise. Children may be asked if they would like to draw their parents at an exchange or at a child-centered event. Another favorite for the children is when the CPR provider has them write a letter to their parents. This information is then shared with parents in a structured and goal- oriented manner during the parent sessions.
As providers of the CPR program, we have found that children feel very valued when asked to participate in the process of trying to improve and make changes in their family systems. The ability to express themselves without the risk of upsetting their parents or not being heard is tremendously important.
Throughout the parent portion of the CPR program, parents will have the chance to hear and digest the information that their children have provided. We will work through the emotional aspects of this and begin to focus on the nuts and bolts of your communication system. Parents will work toward the end result of a functional and cooperative interaction that will allow their children to feel at ease around them and that will remind their children that they are their parents' number 1 focus and priority!
The children will participate in that initial information gathering session and again in the final session that we call the "Commitment Session." During this final one- hour session, children and the co-parenting team will meet with the CPR provider. The parents should be able to acknowledge their children's experiences and perspective with compassion and acceptance. Progress, as well as areas needing further improvement, will be discussed. Parents should be able to present a united and friendly approach, role-modeling for the children the changes that they have been diligently working on throughout the program.