Being a divorced parent has many unique challenges, and the adjustment to parenting separately can be tricky for anyone. Each family has their own unique dynamic and there is no “typical divorce” and no “magic formula” for successful co-parenting. However, there are some things you can do to help improve your co-parenting relationship. If you’re newly divorced and faced with co-parenting, give these six tips a try provided by Dakota Murphey:
1. Commit to Cooperating Together
Effective co-parenting does not require friendship, but it does require cooperation. Make a plan for co-parenting together which clarifies your approach to parenting and your general aims. Your plan can be as simple or as detailed as you like. It might include day-to- day arrangements, financial provisions, and decisions about the future. Raising a child with split parents is a juggling act. Be flexible. If problems continue to arise, sit down again and revise your co-parenting plan. Having a mindset of cooperation will go a long way in helping to avoid future conflicts.
2. Keep Communication Channels Open
Open and regular communication is the key to cooperative parenting. Try to schedule a regular phone call, or maintain an email correspondence to communicate about homework, friends, activities and other important issues that may arise. Even if you end up disagreeing, continue to communicate and at least convey that you’ve heard their point of view (even if you don’t agree with it). Frequent communication will get the message across to your child that you and your co-parent are a united front.
3. Establish Smooth Transitions
Going back and forth can be hard for kids – make it as easy as possible for them. Keep certain basics such as toothbrush, hairbrush, pyjamas at both homes so your child feels more comfortable when they are at the other parent’s house. When your kids prepare to leave your house, try to stay positive and deliver them on time. When they return, especially if a child has a hard time with transitions, keep things low-key. Try to have some down time together—read a book or do some other quiet activity.
4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
There may be things you don’t approve of when it comes to your co-parents parenting style, and you are bound to disagree over certain issues. Instead of trying to control or change what’s happening, learn to let go, accept, and work with it as best you can. If you disagree about important issues like a medical surgery or choice of school for your child, by all means keep the discussion going. But if you want your child in bed by 7:30pm and your co-parent says 8pm, let it go and save your energy for the bigger issues.
5. Take the High Road
It’s easy to get pulled into ugly dynamics or engage in bad behaviour when your buttons are pushed. But no matter how frustrated or annoyed you feel, not engaging in antagonistic or belligerent behaviour with your co-parent is essential. It can help to make a list of the behaviours and qualities you want to uphold as you co-parent. These might include patience, respect, kindness and thoughtfulness. These might be hard to stick to when you are dealing with someone who doesn’t have the same agenda, but rising above and taking
the high road will be better for you and your children in the long run.
6. Seek Out Sources of Support
Informal support such as family members and friends are vital in helping parents work through difficult feelings and the multiple challenges and transitions involved with divorce.
However, in high conflict situations, if you can’t get along enough to co-parent your child without strife, seek out relationship counselling – yes, together! There are few things more damaging to a child than witnessing conflict between parents, and ongoing conflict cuts to the heart of a child’s well-being. Keep this at the forefront of all interactions between you and your co-parent.
Co-parenting is full of decisions you’ll have to make with your ex-partner, whether you like each other or not. By cooperating and communicating without blow-ups or bickering, decision-making is far easier on everybody. Aim for consistency, geniality, and teamwork to overcome co-parenting challenges. You may never be friends, but you can develop a more cordial working relationship with each other.
If you are in this difficult situation, I hope these Top Tips for Divorced Co-Parenting will help you.