Parenting After Parting: Reflections from FLiP Director James Pirrie

I met Dominic Raeside at the Institute of Family Therapy (IFT) in the late 80s. He was someone who could pivot and twirl conflict and shape solutions from what started out in argument like a magician.  Eventually I was lucky enough to follow him to FLiP.  Some years later he said he thought we should be co-sponsoring a training at the IFT in parenting classes.

The training was led by Christina McGhee who held us all spellbound and, I believe, kicked off a revolution.  In 2022 the need for direction and modelling in how children are supported through separation and beyond is on the lips of every competent family-separation professional.  But this was then – I was still scurrying around trying to hover up secondhand copies of Sol Goldstein’s out of print bible “Divorce Parenting: How to Make it Work”, the [only] book on parenting and separation at the time for sharing with clients.

What Christina gave us was vibrant, clear, memorable. Within 18 months, we were attending the Ed Balls “Children’s Summit”, a confluence between the not for profit groups and the Agony Aunts & Uncles.  It felt as though we were in a Prague spring of insight and change – that children might actually come to the centre of everyone’s thinking for those going through separation.

It also happened to be the year of the Resolution Jubilee and at one Board meeting, talk turned to spending the budget on a party to celebrate how much we had achieved.  I remember being so furious and tongue-tied at our complacency and the wasted opportunity to make Christina’s teaching the Jubilee initiative. Thankfully the proposal to do so was carried unanimously.

Liz Edwards and then CEO Karen McKay and I worked with the seemingly indefatigable Christina McGhee to bring the initiative alive.  We had the Resolution guide in print.  Christina’s book was out.  We were sowing the seeds across the country of not-for-profit professional coaches, training, badging and regulating them and planning their development and promoting their wares to a profession that was starting slowly to move towards its recognition that the law did not proffer the route for parents and their children – parents do when they understand what it is that children need from them.

Fifteen years on and those efforts to create a national network of providers fed by referrals from enthusiastic gatekeeper- lawyers has not come to pass in the way that we all hoped. And yet Christina is still inspiring those who are lucky enough to come within her orbit with her practical, memorable, child-saving guidance – still leading family-professionals towards ever-more child-conscious support for their clients.  Covid has happened but it has put us all online and become a calamity that provides unimaginable positive opportunities.

And now Parenting After Parting has been relaunched by FLiP and The Parent Practice as an e-learning course reflecting the appetite for our clients for flexibility and accessibility. We are proud to be working with Elaine Halligan, the founder of The Parent Practice, as we roll out a course designed for today’s busy parents. More details of our new course can be found here.

Who knew we were going to end up here – but what a moment in the middle course of this river we have reached – what’s next?

Book onto the Parenting After Parting course by following the link below: