Going through a divorce or separation is a difficult time in a person’s life, and it becomes even more complex when kids are involved. Working with your co-parent to raise stable, happy and healthy children is an obvious goal that can seem like a daunting task. It is, however, entirely doable, especially when you keep the following helpful tips in mind.
Make Communication a Top Priority
A lot of newly separated parents don’t think about how they will communicate with each other when it comes to the kids after a divorce or separation. In reality, you need to decide on an effective method to handle the lines of communication between you and your co-parent, and this will mean being incredibly honest with yourself about your own limitations and strengths, something your co-parent will have to do as well.
If, for example, face-to-face conversations with your co-parent just aren’t going to work right now because emotions are still too high, speak to your co-parent about using other means that are less emotional to share information about the kids, such as an online messaging system. However you decide to handle it, make sure the lines of communication regarding your children are still open. Don’t limit or shut down these types of conversations to punish your co-parent, as not sharing information about your kids with each other only hurts the kids.
Once emotions have eased and co-parenting is starting to go more smoothly, you can reevaluate communication methods. Maybe you and your co-parent have hit the point where in-person conversations will go fine. The overall goal should be to get yourselves to the point where you are on face-to-face speaking terms, as this shows your kids that you can communicate on a civil level as co-parents.
Stay on Schedule
Don’t fiddle with the schedule for parenting time once it’s set. In the beginning, treating that schedule as if it’s carved in stone will help the kids feel secure and help you keep yourself organized. When you continually change the parenting schedule, it will eat away at the sense of stability and security your children need to feel. Should a modification to the plan be truly needed, have a plan in place for talking to and handling these types of changes with your co-parent.
Keep It Positive
While it’s likely you know not to badmouth your co-parent in front of the kids, what you may not know is that being positive about them occasionally is good, too. You don’t need to go on at length about them–just a positive comment here and there in regard to them as parents can help show your kids that you still see the positive things your co-parent adds to the family. This will make your kids feel safe and that they can speak well of the parent who isn’t there without hurting your feelings by doing so.
Stay on the Same Page About New Partners
As time goes on, you and your co-parent will likely find new partners. It pays to decide together what roles these new people may have with your kids ahead of time. In general, most family professionals say that new partners should not communicate with the other co-parent on matters related to the kids or be involved in mutual child-rearing decisions until they have a secure place in the family’s structure. Ultimately, it will be on you and your co-parent to decide how this will be approached.
Co-parenting is an important but sometimes challenging task. Approach your new co-parenting relationship with the above tips in mind to help get you on the right path.