10 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting
With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it is imperative that couples understand that while the relationship ended your roles as parents did not. Divorce or separation is difficult for everyone, especially the kids, but with some maturity, patience and determination, it is possible make the transition less disruptive. Here are some basic tips that can help ex's work together in the best interest of the child.
1. Children are people NOT pawns. They are not to be used as a way to getting revenge, sending messages back and forth or spying on one another.
2. Look at co-parenting as a new business venture. Redefine your relationship, establish new rules and boundaries, and have a plan of action in case of an emergency. If you and your ex are able to check your egos at the door you will realize that you both want the same goal for your children; to be happy and healthy.
3. Structure communication about specific topics such as medical, social and educational issues. The goal is to share all information with your ex in a manner that is respectful and conflict-free. If you and your ex are not on speaking terms, try other means such as text or email.
4. Be flexible and compromise. In times of disagreement take the time to hear one another out you may come up with alternatives that you and your ex can agree on. It also helps to be flexible when it comes time to make changes to a custody agreement for special occasions or vacations.
5. Put personal feelings aside. There may be hurt and resentment between you and your ex but that has nothing to do with the kids. Take your feelings out somewhere else like the gym, good friends or a therapist.
6. Encourage kids to ask questions and talk about feelings. Change brings on different waves of emotion and they are just as scared as you are. Being honest and supportive will avoid many painful encounters in the future.
7. Encourage a relationship with ex-spouse. Children love both parents and don't want to hear negative things about either one. Don't speak ill of your ex in front of your kids as they will start to feel guilty about loving them. This can lead to poor self-esteem and acting out in the future.
8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you and your ex are not able to work out a plan together there is nothing wrong with going to the professionals. You can put a parenting plan in your custody agreement or you and your ex can work with a therapist to find common ground until you can do it on your own.
9. Keep both homes as normal as possible. Have two of everything so the kids feel like it is actually their space rather than a place they have to transfer back and forth every few days.
10. Keep extended family involved if possible. If the kids see their grandparents or cousins on a regular basis make sure you continue that routine. Having a support system in place will provide them a sense of normalcy.