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NDSU Ext. to offer co-parenting class

The North Dakota State University Extension's Stark Billing County office will be offering classes to help divorced or separated parents and their children get through navigate the difficulties associated with split families.

The class, Parents Forever, is not just for people who are court-ordered to take it, but for anyone who is interested, said Holly Johnson, NDSU extension agent.

"It's for parents who are either going through a divorce or a separation, maybe they're already divorced and they're just having some trouble co-parenting, or parents who have never been married and want to co-parent effectively, but they have to be living apart," she said.

The class focuses on topics such as self-care, seeing through the child's eyes, managing conflict and good communication strategies.

"If you're not taking a little bit of time for yourself, it's going to be really hard to respond to your kids' needs and respond to the other parent. A lot of parents tend to feel guilty about taking time for themselves, thinking that they don't deserve to, but self-care is really important, especially in this high-stress situation," Johnson said.

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The class will help parents see the separation through their child's eyes, focusing on their specific age group.

"A five year old is going to perceive this situation differently than a 15 year old, and how you can communicate and respond to each child's needs, whether you have multiple children of different ages or just one," Johnson said.

The session is group-discussion based. Parents will be given scenarios and asked to talk about the best way to handle the situation presented.

Those interested in attending the class must pre-register a week in advance with the extension office. The class is four hours and costs $30 per person to cover the trained facilitator.

Classes will be offered six times this year: Feb. 1, April 25, June 6, Aug. 1, Oct. 10 and Dec. 5.

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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