Bridging Resist/Refuse:

Establishing Parental Leadership for Parent/Child Contact Problems

Bridging Resist/Refuse is a comprehensive program for families experiencing parent/child contact problems. It is meant specifically for families in which the child(ren) has refused contact with one parent for at least 6 months. This course is designed to be a prerequisite to clinical therapy or other services to address parent child contact problems (commonly referred to as “reunification therapy”). Bridging Resist/Refuse aims to create cooperation between the coparents so they can lead their children through the upcoming therapy to re-establish contact between the children and the estranged parent. This program is an adaptation of a William James College curriculum and is intended to move conflicted co-parents into a more child-focused pattern of co-parenting.

NOTE: Class participants will be required to provide the name of their reunification provider who has agreed to work with their family after completion of the course, or sign a specific waiver indicating they understand they will need to find their own provider to work clinically with the family after the course. Participants are responsible for finding their own providers, though a list of referrals will be provided upon request. Completing this course DOES NOT guarantee The Bridging Center, or any of the course facilitators or their affiliated agencies, will provide clinical “reunification services” with the family after the course.

The program includes:

  • Over 25 hours of class time in a fully interactive, online format
  • Mandatory attendance of both parents together
  • Two-person (or more) team of facilitators (at least one male and one female)
  • Maximum of 6 of co-parenting partners, 12 total participants
  • Well-established models of parent education
  • Bridging Parental Conflict class concepts
  • Latest in child-development and trauma-informed research

This course teaches skills that may help parents save money by avoiding long court battles and create a calmer family atmosphere for children by solving problems faster. Services for families experiencing resist/refuse are often time-consuming and expensive. This course is meant to help the process move in a timely manner with less overall cost. Parents learn the damage their conflict causes their children developmentally, which can carry into adulthood and often throughout their lives. It is designed to help parents learn the skills to de-escalate custody/parenting time disputes and focus on raising healthy children.

Co-parenting partners can expect the following process:

  • A member of the judiciary or a qualified authority (e.g., parenting consultant) working with the family will order the family to participate in this program. Attendance is reported back to the court or identified authority. (If your family does not have a court order or a parenting consultant, additional informed consent will be required.)
  • After receiving the order/decision, one of the designated instructors will contact each parent to conduct an intake interview (we screen individuals for active drug or alcohol problems, mental illness, domestic abuse/violence, or other issues that may impede progress).
  • Both parents attend the classes together for 8 consecutive sessions via videoconference.
  • Each parent must provide a small picture of him/her with the children to be used in the other parent’s home.
  • Class (either together, or in smaller groups, will eat dinner together virtually).
  • Parents work together to create a narrative to share with the children about why additional services are necessary.
  • Parent jointly create a map of “first steps” toward contact between the children and the estranged parent.

There are several objectives for parents who participate in the course. Parents will:

  • Develop and/or strengthen co-parenting partner communications as evidenced by weekly phone calls or emails following a provided structure
  • Develop conflict resolution skills, including leaving history in the past and staying in the present, identifying issues in non-blaming manner; practicing “radical acceptance”; and practicing problem solving.
  • Demonstrate respect for their co-parenting partner by saying positive things about him/her to children and encouraging children to have eventual regular contact with their co-parenting partner.
  • Demonstrate emotion regulation.
  • Take responsibility by recognizing individual hurt and anger and co-parenting partner conflict is harmful to their children.
  • Understand children’s perspective and remain able to refrain from negative communication in front of the children.
  • Participants will get a certificate of completion and letter at the end of class. This letter will describe dynamics both external to and within the family system, including contributions of both parents, that are likely to positively and/or negatively affect the progress of clinical work (“reunification therapy”). When potential hindrances toward progress are identified, suggestions will be made regarding how either parent, or the family system, could address them. This process of identifying potential hindrances is meant to inform families who are unlikely to be successful before utilizing expensive clinical services and involving their children in a challenging intervention. It will also provide clear feedback about how the greatest potential for success might be achieved, if not through reunification therapy. The letter is also filed with the court by the parties, so the judicial officer has access to the information. Factors considered by the facilitators will include (but are not limited to) the following: attendance at all 8 classes, completion of all homework, demonstrated ability to accept obligation for change, concrete evidence of a strong verbal and behavioral commitment to peaceful co-parenting (not simply demonstrate the belief that the conflict is really just the fault of the other parent), as well as completion all assigned projects with coparent.