Post-divorce parenting — or co-parenting — can sometimes feel like a minefield. But, let’s face it. Parenting is a challenge under any circumstances. Therefore, it’s advisable that you enter into a co-parenting scenario with self-awareness and flexibility. There will be bumps in the road. But this can be made smoother with a solid blend of detailed planning and healthy communication.
To follow, you’ll be guided by a series of dos and don’ts. Of course, every situation is unique. You will need to adapt any and all advice to your needs. However, it is essential to enter into this process with commitment and optimism.
7 Ways You Can Cultivate Healthy Co-Parenting
1. Treat Each Other With Respect
This is a foundational pillar. Many divorces are ugly. If you need to, gripe about your ex to your friends and family. But, for the sake of your children, you and your ex must remain civil. This will not only soothe the situation but ultimately teach your kids some valuable lessons about relationships. P.S. Part of this respect is to keep your ex informed about your life circumstances. They shouldn’t be getting secret updates from the children.
There is nothing more important or helpful. Maintain an open dialogue no matter how difficult it feels. Speak directly to each other — face-to-face, if possible. Let it be known that the lines of communication are always open.
3. Be Organized
Be clinical and business-like. You have multiple schedules to juggle so get organized. Emotions do not have to play a role when it comes to creating a spreadsheet if necessary. Keep rules consistent and structure in place.
4. Set Boundaries
Set and respect boundaries between you and your ex. do the same for the kids. These can relate to time, timing, behavior, and more. Agree in advance on how much the extended family will be involved. But stay flexible because changes will keep popping up.
5. Remember: It’s Not All About You
This is a tough one. Typically, after a divorce, you’ll go through a period of grief, anger, confusion, and adjustment. Guess what? This is not the top priority when it comes to co-parenting. Your children’s well-being comes first. Deal with your emotional wounds on your time.
6. Do Not Settle Scores at the Expense of the Kids
The parent with primary custody may feel tempted to “punish” their ex but withholding the children from them. If this sounds familiar, keep a few things in mind:
- Your kids did not ask to be thrust into this situation
- They are already hurting and do not need to be used as pawns
- In reality, they are the ones being punished the most
- Such behavior will come back to haunt you
Neither parenting nor co-parenting is a competition so, stop keeping score. Give your children the gift of dwelling in an environment of positive talk. If you have something to say to your ex, say it to them — in private.
7. Embrace the Full Range of Activities
Another temptation may exist for the parent who has less time with the children. They may imagine they need to make that time unique and special. Sometimes, sure, why not? But kids also need and want to be with you during the mundane times. Help them with their homework. Enlist them to help with chores and errands. Studies show how much children benefit from this balance.
Counseling Can Be a Major Asset
You may want to attend co-parenting coaching with your ex. Perhaps you prefer some individual therapy too. Either way, it will a safe space in which co-parenting gets refined. You do not have to struggle alone. Help is available. Please reach out for a consultation and support you can count on.