After six years and 42 interviews, Karen Kristjanson is ready to share what she’s learned about shared parenting from parents who are living it.
The mother of two said she is aiming to see her book, Co-parent Stories: Harvest of Hope, published next year.
“The manuscript is finished and it’s been edited and I’m just starting to look for a publisher,” Kristjanson said.
Kristjanson is no stranger to the subject matter – she raised her two sons in a joint-custody arrangement.
The certified life and leadership coach first spoke to Peace Arch News on the issue six years ago, describing a desire to help others who are practising or considering shared parenting.
Divorced in 1991, she said there were no how-to books to help guide her own journey.
“I felt like I had no road maps… quite isolated,” Kristjanson said.
Fortunately, that has changed over the years.
Kristjanson expects her book will appeal to a range of parents who are either facing co-parenting, or already in the thick of it.
It features 35 stories gleaned from interviews with parents in a variety of circumstances – from navigating co-parenting through high-conflict legal battles, to collaborative arrangements, where special-needs children are involved, and co-parenting as lesbians.
Names and particularly unique details were changed to protect identities, but the lessons shared hold true, she said.
“People who kind of did the work of letting themselves grieve what they had lost generally were able to move forward and build new lives for themselves,” Kristjanson said.
“Stronger parents made stronger kids, as the time passed.”
One surprise for Kristjanson as she conducted the interviews was how critical a role the fundamental physical, mental and financial health of each parent played in each family’s success.
“That sort of hit me between the eyes,” she said.
“If you can improve any of those things… then that’s a big deal.”
Another common thread was that no one who sought help in the process regretted that decision; whether it was formal help, or simply taking the time to look after themselves along the way.
Kristjanson said her research could also be of benefit to others affected by a co-parenting situation or who are working with the parents involved, from teachers and lawyers to mediators and daycare staff.
For more information, or to book Kristjanson for a presentation on the research, email firstname.lastname@example.org