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Divorce 3 246An online parenting program for divorced parents 

From an article by Child and Family blog

Most divorced and separated parents are concerned about their children and ask themselves: “What can I do to protect my children from the problems that often follow divorce?” Although many online parenting-after-divorce programs offer advice, few are backed by solid research that show they actually work.

However, in the first rigorous evaluation of an online programme, research showed that a brief, online parenting intervention for divorced and separated parents reduced interparental conflict and children’s behaviour problems, and improved the quality of parent-child relationships and the effectiveness of parental discipline.

The online programme, the eNew Beginnings Program (eNBP), was adapted by researchers Sharlene Wolchik and Irwin Sandler from their in-person group programme for parents that reduced the mental health problems, drug and alcohol use, and risky sexual behaviour of children from divorced families. The programme also improved children’s self-esteem, grades, coping, and work competence. Several of the positive changes lasted up to 15 years after the programme ended: When the offspring were young adults, they had lower rates of depression, substance use, and painful feelings about the divorce.

To make the programme affordable, more widely available, and easier for parents to use, Wolchik and Sandler adapted the in-person programme into an online version. The eNBP is affordable (£40-£60 for short or extended course), and parents can take part on their own time and in the comfort of their own homes. They need only a smartphone, computer, or tablet. The eNBP is offered as a 6 week compact course or a 10 week extended one (20 to 30 minutes per online session over 10 weeks). Separate versions of the programme were developed for divorced and separated fathers and for divorced and separated mothers.

The eNBP works by teaching parents practical tools to strengthen positive relationships with their children, create and use family rules that reduce the hassles often associated with discipline, and decrease the level of conflict with the other parent (i.e., the ex-partner). The programme teaches these tools in a step-by-step, highly interactive way.

The effectiveness of the eNBP was evaluated using a randomized controlled trial. One hundred thirty-one parents were randomly given access to the programme or assigned to a waiting list. After completing the programme, both parents and their children provided information about its effects. Parents and children reported that the programme improved the quality of parent-child relationships, increased effective discipline, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in the children. Both parents and children also reported reduced conflict between parents.

The programme was equally effective for mothers and fathers. The improvements noticed by the children increase confidence in the study’s findings because the children did not take part in the programme. The improvements from the online programme were as strong or stronger than those that resulted from the original in-person programme, which has had remarkable effects in three randomized controlled trials. The programme developers think this may be due to the high level of interactivity of the online program and the ease of using it.

Parents were very satisfied with the programme. Most felt that it helped them and helped their relationships with their children. And more than 80% of the parents said that family courts should recommend that divorcing or separating parents complete the eNBP.

Read the full article here.

Although this is a programme out of USA, the principles it communicates must be useful for parents everywhere that are divorced or going through divorce.

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From an article by Child and Family blog, 08/03/2023

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