Divorce is a process that often stirs up a variety of bittersweet emotions. For couples without children, once the divorce is finalized there’s rarely a need to stay in contact and it’s easier to move forward in life. However, a divorcing couple with children often face the challenge of how to co-parent without letting their personal feelings and issues interfere with raising their children with their ex. If you are struggling to have a healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex, here are some tips to ensure that your child’s well-being remains a priority:
The Benefits of Healthy Co-Parenting
Parents make their children one of their top priorities and while most parents are well-intentioned, the unfortunate reality behind divorce is that some children end up feeling tossed around, split in two, and are forced to act as a mediator between feuding parents. While the moments during and shortly after a divorce can be rocky, it’s important to think about how healthy co-parenting can benefit children. If you and your ex have both been given shared custody of your children, keep in mind some of the benefits of co-parenting:
- Children develop feelings of stability and are less likely to feel abandoned.
- Children are allowed to be children, rather than a social and emotional companion for their parents.
- Children can continue to have a good relationship with both of their parents and parents are able to focus on strengthening and improving their relationship with their children.
Be Available to Your Child
A divorce can leave you struggling with some intense emotions and while it’s important to work through some of your issues, make sure that you are always available to your child. Although it’s likely that you and your ex already sat down and explained the divorce to your child, don’t assume that all of his or her questions are answered and even though you may want to move forward, understand that your child may need more time. When talking with your child about the divorce, keep it neutral, don’t trash talk your ex, and focus on how you can help your child with his or her feelings.
The Importance of Communicating
While the last thing you may want to do is keep in contact with your ex on a regular basis, communication is key in regards to your child. Don’t make major decisions for or about your child (such as education, religion, extracurricular activities) without talking with your ex first. Failure to communicate can be toxic for your co-parenting relationship and will ultimately affect the wellbeing of your child. Keep your conversations with your ex professional, stay on task, focus on your child, and avoid using language that sounds accusatory.
Be on the Same Page
You and your ex may disagree on many things, but in order to have a healthy co-parenting relationship, the two of you need to agree on things related to your child. Even if you disagree with what your ex is saying, hear him or her out before arguing. While it’s likely that you won’t agree on everything, try to find a middle ground and be consistent. Many divorced couples end up competing with one another and try to be a “good” or “fun” parent. Keep in mind that children do better with a routine and if your child is sharing time between you and your ex, a healthy co-parenting relationship will benefit your child as he or she work through and adjusts to his or her new life transition.