Feature Address at the Graduation of the Co-Parenting Pilot Programme

I am honoured to share this morning with you, to congratulate you on having successfully completed of the inaugural Co-Parenting Pilot Programme.

Becoming a parent is the most unique experience, this gift of life is revealed and you become responsible for the creation and development of another human being. In the beginning, this new life is completely dependent on you, then this young child begins to learn from you; soon after that, you have a young person developing in front of you, then comes puberty, teenage years, convenient independence, social media, peer influence and the pressures of society and life happens. You become the captain, cleaner, cook, co-pilot,in some cases confidant and in others “corrections officer” in the journey that is their life…Their journey through their life becomes yours, and there is precious little training for this most important task. Parenthood is not scripted, and it is in those very challenging moments, there is opportunity to teach and to learn through explanation and by example.
According to the statistics from Trinidad and Tobago’s court system, there are increasing numbers of relationships that are being dissolved.

These statistics reveal the need for support to parents as they navigate new waters of raising a child or children with two separate households while at the same time ensuing that the children are taken care of and are emotionally equipped to handle changes to family structure.

About 60% of the Community Mediation Division’s practice is Family Mediation, which at times addresses issues of access. Family Mediators are required to work with parents to negotiate, custody, access, maintenance and separation of assets (property). Co-parenting addresses the first three issues and sometimes might even involve the fourth. Therefore co-parenting is a fundamental requirement of Family Mediation.
The Co-parenting Programme was created out of a necessity to equip
parents with the knowledge and skills to continue working with their former partners for the development and happiness of their child, whilst promoting positive change, improving communication between the parents and reducing the emotional harm experienced by the child or children in conflict cases. It encourages parents to recognize, acknowledge and understand the impact of their behaviour on the child.
Very often I reiterate the mandate of The Ministry of Community
Development, Culture and the Arts, that is to ‘build culturally rich, resilient
communities’. Resilient individuals, families, students, schools and
organizations redound to resilient communities and a resilient society. That
is what the Community Mediation Department is committed to achieving;
the support and development of productive, creative and harmonious
communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
Through the work of the Community Mediation Services Division, the Ministry is able to meet the needs of citizens who are seeking not only conflict resolution services but the skills needed to cope with day to day life; whether it be stress management, communication, peer counselling, parenting and in your case co-parenting. We are not only responding to, but using data and research to anticipate the challenges of a changing or as some would say evolving society and social norms.
Parents, although today marks the formal end of your training it is not the
end of the support you will receive from this Ministry. Our services are open to you through our eight (8) Mediation Centres, Mobile Mediation Unit and
the many programmes and courses including our Parent Support Group,
Men’s Group, Public Sensitization Sessions and Community Empowerment
Workshops. Encourage your children to participate in our Peer Mediation
programme if it comes to their school; which I might add has trained almost 600 students in the last four (4) years.
I thank Mrs. Beverly Harry-Emmanuel, Executive Director of the Community Mediation Division and her team for the exceptional work they continue to do in developing these and other innovative programmes.
To the graduates of this pilot programme, I encourage you to commit your
best efforts to the work of being a parent and co-parent and setting the best
example for your children so that they develop into the kind of adults our
society needs in the future. Our hope is to disseminate this knowledge far
and wide throughout Trinidad and Tobago. You are our advocates and
messengers. Share what you learn with those who may need it.
Congratulations to all participants! Thank you for allowing yourselves to be
part of this journey! Thank you all for your attention and I hope that success will be your constant companion.