Tips for Successful Co-Parenting
After a divorce, it’s hard to get along with your ex-spouse. However, it is important to remember that you got divorced – your kids did not. How you choose to handle your co-parenting responsibilities can have a long-term effect on your mental health and your children’s well being.
It’s important to talk to one another about your child and to have open communication about how you expect your child to be raised. If you can learn how to put differences aside and not sweat the small stuff, you are on your way to a successful co-parenting relationship. What should you do to make sure you have a good co-parenting plan in place. Here are some tips:
1. You’re a parent for life. Remember your marriage may be over, but you are in this together as co-parents for the long haul. Even after custody is no longer an issue, there will be birthdays, graduations, college, marriages, grandchildren, etc. Learning how to manage this post-marriage relationship will help you and your children well into the future.
2. Be straightforward. You should state outright what your expectations are of the other parent (within reason – you can’t dictate how the other party parent’s your child during their time). Your ex can’t read your mind; If you expect him or her to make sure your child is home a certain time on week days, make that clear.
3. Consider mediation. If you and your ex-spouse have a hard time communicating, consider mediating. Mediation helps resolve conflicts by having a third party there to listen and discuss issues with you. Mediation helps teach you techniques for handling disputes, which is helpful now and as your child grows.
4. Be Consistent. Make sure you and your ex are on the same page as much as possible when it comes to parenting your children. Discuss the different rules you have in each home and focus on combining them into one set of rules overall. Imagine how confusing it would be for your child to have parents who have different sets of rules in each home. It’s difficult for the children to have to adjust each time they go to see their parents. It is easier for a child to do the right thing when he or she must follow the same rules at all times.
5. Focus on your children. Don’t make it about you. Do your best to set aside your differences for the sake of your children and see to it that they come first. When you and your ex disagree on something, consider why you’re fighting and whether it has anything to do with the needs of your children.
6. Don’t put your children in the middle. Don’t speak poorly of the other parent(s) around the child. When you and your ex are not getting along, keep your children out of it. It is best for children to have an established relationship with both parents if possible. If you argue or bad mouth the other parent in front of children, you jeopardize their relationship with both you and their other parent. This type of situation puts enormous stress upon your children. Also, Keep the discussions and communication between the parents and not through the kids. Putting kids in the middle divides them and can do emotional damage.
If you need help mediating or drafting a co-parenting plan, call us – we can help you!