Co-Parenting and Relationship Skills
Young Fathers of Santa Fe helps the mother and father build a positive co-parenting relationship, avoiding the courts if possible. The program helps parents establish a parenting plan that includes ground rules to guide how and when they communicate. For example, Johnny Wilson, Executive Director, points out that texting or talking via phone can lead to individuals “getting mad” or saying something they might regret. He recommends “staying off the phone” and using email for most co-parenting communication. He encourages parents to draft email messages and wait 24 hours so they can review from the other person’s perspective before sending. If a young father doesn’t have an email account, the program will explain how it can also be important for communication with employers or education providers.
Those who have worked with young fathers in New Zealand also stress this essential program component: “Support for teen [fathers] and [mothers] has missed out on support for them as a couple. A support program for young fathers cannot work in isolation from support programs for young mothers.”13 Although many U.S. practitioners have found that offering employment or child support assistance is a key recruitment tool, particularly for fathers in their 20s, the New Zealand practitioners found that the teen dads they worked with responded better to help with the emotional components of fatherhood: “love, care, and time.”14
Visit the Toolkit section on Working with Fathers to Enhance Relationship Skills for additional resources.