Divorce is a difficult process, no matter what. When children are involved, however, it can be even harder. There are more questions to answer, more things to consider, and more “what ifs” to think about.
One of the biggest issues parents often face when going through a divorce is how to effectively continue taking care of their kids, creating the best possible environment for them.
That’s why being on the same page with co-parenting is so important.
Co-parenting isn’t always easy, especially depending on the type of custody and/or visitation schedules set in place. But certain practices and skills can make it more effective when you and your former spouse are willing to put the downfall of your marriage aside to focus on your children.
Being Respectful and Empathetic
Respect and empathy are the most important skills to have when you’re trying to successfully co-parent. Showing your kids that you still respect their other parent will create a healthier dynamic for everyone.
Furthermore, it’s important to show empathy toward your former spouse as well as toward your kids. It might hurt if your child tells you how much they miss their father/mother. Instead of letting it upset you, though, talk to them about it.
Remember, you may sometimes have to push your own feelings aside to do what’s best for your kids.
Avoid Arguing About Everything
No two people have the exact same parenting techniques. That would have been the case even if you stayed married to your former spouse.
Yet, these differences in parenting styles can sometimes create friction in divorced couples. Instead of arguing over every little thing, pick your battles.
It’s okay to have discussions about the way you’d like to parent your child. But, you’re not going to “win” every argument. Stick with the things that are most important to you and be flexible about minor things.
Don’t Communicate Through Your Kids
If your divorce was especially contentious, you may have a hard time directly communicating with your former spouse. Unfortunately, it’s a must when you’re trying to co-parent. Granted, there are situations—such as psychological or emotional abuse—where a mediator is in your best interest. Still, some level of communication is necessary.
One of the worst things you can do is use your children as “messengers.” Don’t ask your child to tell your former spouse something. Instead, do it yourself.
When you use your kids as a go-between, they can start to feel confused, torn, and even hurt.
Encourage Your Child’s Relationship
It might be difficult when you don’t have the best feelings about your ex, but it’s important to encourage a positive relationship between your former spouse and your children. Talking negatively about your ex in front of your kids might make them feel nervous about expressing love for that parent, etc.
So, respect the time your ex has with your kids. Encourage them to call your ex when they haven’t seen each other in a while. Help them shop for Christmas and birthday gifts for their other parent.
On your end, you can also share school photos and grades, keep your ex updated on upcoming events for your kids, etc. When you make an effort to do this, it will be easier for your kids to do it, too.
Encouraging a healthy relationship will make the transition from living with two parents to one parent an easier one on your children.
Co-parenting is easier for some divorced couples than others. It usually depends on the underlying cause for your split, and how well you can actually get along with your spouse.
If you’d like help with a co-parenting situation, please contact us today. We have lots of experience helping parents get on the same page with parenting.
Also, our local community partner Divorce Strategies Group, has written a two part series on financial co-parenting. We highly recommend you review their tips, including an app to make financial co-parenting easier!