After you have divorced, it can be tough to tell how to move forward as a parent. The big picture is clear enough: you’re still going to raise your kids with your ex. However, being the sole adult on duty all of a sudden can throw you for a loop!
Raising your kids the same way you did before the divorce is probably not an option now. As you make the transition and adjust to all the changes, parenting mistakes are bound to happen but keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you and your ex can’t still be positive forces in your kid’s lives.
Part of co-parenting the right way after a divorce is the ability to recognize the most common mistakes. Once you know what these missteps are, you’ll be better able to notice them if they are popping up in your parenting, giving you time to adjust and employ strategies to stop them from becoming major issues.
Arguing Over the Smallest Things
As your kids move between your home and that of your co-parent, it’s only a matter of time before things get lost along the way. But when you realize that your kid forgot to pack their favorite shirt, for example, you have to resist the urge to message your ex with requests to have the shirt dropped off or unhelpful critiques.
The easiest way to prevent arguments between you and your co-parent over forgotten things is to dump the “pack a bag” routine entirely. Kids who have to pack up and “move” every time they go to a parent’s house can end up feeling like they are just guests in both homes. They’re already dealing with a lot of changes, and this can just make it worse.
You and your co-parent can drop the bag routine by having a set of essentials at each house, including toiletries and clothes. Of course, you can’t duplicate special items like a favorite stuffed animal, but at least your child will only be carrying a few things in between homes, minimizing the chances of items being left behind or lost entirely.
Overindulging the Kids
A divorce is often traumatizing for kids, and this may leave both you and your co-parent feeling guilt over it. To try to make things right, some parents end up overindulging their kids, buying them a lot of items, treating them to sweets or letting them have their way most of the time.
Of course, indulging your kids sometimes is fine, but it can become an issue when done too often. Your kids could begin to expect this treatment, leading them to have unrealistic expectations of their parents and life overall. Keep an eye on how often you do this and whether it’s turned into the rule rather than the exception. If this is a problem with your co-parent, raise the issue with them in the most polite and civil manner possible.
Badmouthing the Other Parent
Even if you believe you never say any bad things about your co-parent when your kids are present, you may be saying more than you should at times. Any form of badmouthing your co-parent may have consequences, even if you believe you are being careful about how you do it.
Kids can look at your text messages, overhear phone conversations and pick up on sarcasm when you are backhanding your co-parent. When you badmouth your co-parent, you create an emotional burden on your kids. They don’t want to hear their parents being mean about each other, and they might even feel as if you want them to feel the same way as if they are in some sort of tug-of-war.
Badmouthing a co-parent is an easy mistake to make post-divorce, but it will only make things worse. Always think about what you will say before you talk about your co-parent. If you really need to let off some steam, do so where the kids will never hear, such as in a therapy setting.
Other adults in your kids’ lives can also influence their emotions, so if your friends or family are badmouthing your ex in front of your kids, tell them it has to stop for the children’s sake.
Everyone makes mistakes, especially in the aftermath of a significant life event such as divorce. However, mistakes in parenting are still fixable, and now that you are aware of the most common pitfalls, you may be able to avoid some of them entirely.