Parenting is filled with challenges, even in the best of circumstances. However, co-parenting after divorce can easily add to those challenges, especially if you and your ex-spouse have not yet recovered from the pain and frustration surrounding your divorce.
However, if you and your spouse have children, you may need to find a way to make co-parenting a successful experience for your kids. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but every step in the right direction helps. Three ways to help co-parenting be a success include keeping parental conflict from your children, finding a way to communicate with your ex and maintaining consistency.
Avoid fighting in front of the kids
A fundamental rule of co-parenting is to keep parental conflict away from your children. This includes not fighting in front of your kids and not badmouthing your ex within earshot of your kids. Children benefit from maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents after divorce. However, when children are exposed to their parents’ conflicts they can feel like they need to choose sides or assign blame. This can sabotage their relationship with one or both parents.
Practice effective communication
If you and your ex-spouse are going to co-parent successfully, you will also need to find a way to effectively communicate with your ex. Communicating effectively may require putting limits on the types of things you talk about. For example, you may find success if you and your spouse agree to focus your conversations on your children and avoid talking about your personal lives. If you and your spouse are especially prone to arguing, you may also consider communicating through text, email or an app service when possible to minimize face-to-face conversations. However, your children should never be used to convey messages from one parent to the other.
Children benefit from predictability, especially following their parents’ divorce, which may have already caused significant changes to their lives. With this in mind, it can be beneficial to your children for you and your ex to agree to keep consistent as many routines and parenting strategies as possible. You and your ex may agree to keep your children’s chores the same in both houses. You may also agree to set homework or bedtime routines. It may also be helpful to create routines for your children’s transition from one house to the other. Even the incorporation of familiar items in both houses can provide comfort and consistency for a child. However, it is important to remember that you can only enforce the rules for your own house.
There are many challenges associated with co-parenting. However, taking steps to co-parent well can go a long way toward helping your children better cope with your divorce.