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SPECIALTIES

Change Management

Years in Practice

10 years +

where

Surrey BC V4A 9B5 - Canada

Credentials

MA, PCC

Additional Expertise

Author, Divorce Coach, Parenting Coach

I Practice in

All areas, please inquire

I AM FLUENT IN

English

I Believe

The best way to get through hard times and thrive is to learn about yourself, about your world – or both. “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max DePree

About Karen Kristjanson

B. A. M.Sc. in Social Psychology M.A. in Applied Behavioural Science

I am an author, life coach and co-parent. Helping people make changes that will lead them to their desired life gives me profound satisfaction. Working as an educator, manager, school psychologist and counselor honed my awareness of how important and difficult change is for us all. Then my own divorce and challenge of co-parenting my sons showed me the vital importance of parenting, especially after divorce.

My growth

Divorce and rebuilding my life acted as a crucible for me. Choosing to share the parenting of my sons with their father turned out to be a good decision for my sons, and I am glad we chose this path. It wasn’t easy. I found it lonely and struggled to work with the boys’ father, especially at first, in the midst of intense feelings. It’s hard to make good decisions when emotions are churning. These events demanded so much of me that I grew in confidence and compassion, taking ownership of my life in a new way.

I value many kinds of education. In formal schooling, mostly my brain was tested and used. My heart – part of what parenting engages and requires every day – opened and expanded through my life transitions. I came to understand the importance of mind, heart, body and spirit together as crucial to growth.

My book

To support other co-parents, I wrote Co-Parenting from the Inside Out: Voices of Moms and Dads, published in 2017 by Dundurn Press. It captures stories of parents I interviewed from across North America in a wide range of circumstances. Co-operative parents, those in high-conflict battles, parents across the spectrum of sexual orientation, those with little money and those with plenty, parents with special needs, children with special needs, alienated parents – they are all there. From each set of stories I drew observations, patterns and themes. The last chapter contains twelve lessons learned from the stories, to provide context and encouragement to readers.

My coaching

Ten years ago, I became a certified Integral Master Coach®, building on all my previous work with individuals learning and changing. Coaching again invited me to grow and has deepened my ability to comprehend who each client is, support them and challenge them in order to expand their capacities.

I began my practice, Beyond Limits Coaching, serving clients by phone, skype and in person. Working with individuals in transition is my favorite thing, as most of us become more open to learning new skills and perspectives when our old ones have stopped working so well. Co-parents’ transitions in becoming the person they want to be in their post-divorce life, is particularly close to my heart.

Hard things happen to us all. As many wise people observe, it is our response to those painful events that offer us a way forward. I would never have the strength to choose illness, divorce, or the many gruelling circumstances that are part of life. Yet the silver lining of those events can be rich and transformative. The rewards of growth are tremendous!

Karen Kristjanson Success Stories

Review of "Co-Parenting from the Inside Out"

Co-Parenting from the Inside Out offers us life and love-sustaining stories about co-parenting our children together, even when we are no longer together. The wisdom and struggle, the solutions and messiness reflected in these stories encourage us to remember what matters most — the loving, the caring and feeding of bodies and souls.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer, author of The Invitation and The Dance

Review of "Co-Parenting from the Inside Out"

In her new book Co-Parenting from the Inside Out Karen has captured the essence of parenting after divorce, featuring interviews with separated or divorced parents who both struggled and triumphed to put their children first. She tells their stories, and her own, with sensitivity and compassion, and provides practical solutions to get through the difficult times including false abuse allegations, long-distance parenting, unchecked resentment and anger, alienation, special needs children, parents with psychological disorders, and so much more. This book should be read by all parents who are searching for a way to do what’s right for their children upon marriage breakdown.

Georgialee Lang BA JD FCIArb, family law attorney and arbitrator

Book Review

This book is a truly eye-opening read and an essential resource for those considering co-parenting.

Our Children Magazine

Vanier Institute of the Family review of Co-Parenting Book

Separated couples

While putting the children first remains paramount for many families, it isn’t always easy when a family is navigating their “new normal” after separation or divorce. While some may settle comfortably into new routines as tensions are reduced or eliminated by now living apart, family members, including children of all ages, may experience a range of emotions in the weeks, months and years to come.more

In Co-Parenting from the Inside Out: Voices of Moms and Dads, author Karen Kristjanson explores modern parenthood after couples go their separate ways while working to support their child(ren)’s well-being. Through interviews with parents in Canada and the United States, Kristjanson sheds light on some of the modern realities of parenting with a former partner or spouse.

Though the reality of co-parenting may differ in detail from one family to another, Kristjanson says, “The heart of co-parenting or shared parenting is the relationship between separated/divorced parents and their children. It is sharing everyday routines as well as holidays so that both parents are meaningfully involved in their children lives. It lets parents stay in tune with their children’s growth, needs and potential.”

Kristjanson takes a “storytelling approach,” sharing co-parenting stories from parents with diverse family experiences, such as same-sex parents, parents with children who have special needs, parents living with mental illness and/or addictions, parents who have experienced violence, and more – all of whom are trying to figure out the best ways to care for their children without letting their own feelings (such as regret and guilt) take over their ability to co-parent.

“It didn’t feel like a negotiation, we didn’t disagree on much to do with parenting. We made a commitment that we would put them first.”
– Ayla, interviewee

Though the reality of co-parenting may differ in detail from one family to another, Kristjanson says, “The heart of co-parenting or shared parenting is the relationship between separated/divorced parents and their children. It is sharing everyday routines as well as holidays so that both parents are meaningfully involved in their children lives. It lets parents stay in tune with their children’s growth, needs and potential.”

For one former couple, the focus was on remaining a family, despite the separation. This involved both being present at all the children’s events and refraining from embarking on new intimate relationships for more than 10 years to “preserve the family for their children.” Another former couple chose to invest in shared living space. Although this was a temporary arrangement at first, after a few years post-separation, the former couple and one new partner, along with their children, moved into a home together. It relieved them of some financial stress while allowing them to co-parent within a unified home base for their children.

For the interviewees whose stories are shared throughout the book, there were a lot of unknowns following the initial decision to end the relationship. As Kristjanson says, “I didn’t know how this next phase would work, just that our family life as it was couldn’t continue” – a sentiment shared by many couples. Part of the “what’s next” for many of the parents interviewed was seeking help and support. For Kristjanson, support came in the form of family, neighbours, self-help books and eventually the support from a new spouse. Not only does this demonstrate the diversity of families and family formation, but also the extended circle of support that often encompasses them.

“I grew a lot that summer as a dad, I think. I had never had that one-on-one time with them. I started to see being a parent in a different way, and things began expanding for me. But it took a while, it didn’t happen at once.”
 – Joe, interviewee

What stands out in Kristjanson’s book are the reflections by the parents. Their voices shine through with detail about their relationship journey and redefined role and experience as a co-parent. Though some of the stories don’t necessarily have the ending they once expected – as tensions and conflict may still exist – Kristjanson focuses on hope. She concentrates on the parents’ abilities to be the best parents they can be, even when parenting separately and differently than before the separation or divorce. She also emphasizes the importance of self-management skills, cooperation and personal growth. 

This book, though insightful, also serves as a handbook for parents who are trying to figure out how to be the best co-parent they can, with their children’s best interests at heart.

Karen Kristjanson Articles