After a separation or divorce, it’s normal to feel like you are stumbling through life, especially when kids are involved. But the good news is that co-parenting can be a successful way of raising children; it just takes some work – and some time to get used to. We’re here to help.
Establish the Best Form of Communication
Some parents can talk face-to-face and take care of business with no emotion, but others can’t, and that’s okay. Start by establishing your best form of communication, whether that’s in-person, via text, or through email. What’s not recommended? Having your kids be the messenger. They may feel like they need to be the mediator when their job is to be a kid.
Let Things Go
With any separation, breakup, or divorce, you may be tempted to hold a grudge about something your former partner did, but to be a successful co-parent, you have to let it go. This does not mean your feelings aren’t valid. But you have to avoid giving them the cold shoulder or making remarks to or about them to your kids. Instead, therapy may be able to help you process these feelings.
No Trash Talking
Ensure your kids never hear you put down or talk badly about the other parent. If the topic comes up, try to say something positive. If you find out your former partner is putting you down, it can be a good opportunity to be the bigger person. Instead, say something like, “There seems to be some miscommunication. I’ll talk to them, and we’ll figure it out.”
Keep Your Support System Close
Transitioning into co-parenting is a process you shouldn’t have to go through alone. Whether your support system is composed of friends, family, other co-parents, or a trusty counselor or therapist, keep them close.
No Pop Quizzes
Your ex may start seeing other people or get that job promotion, but don’t quiz your kiddos about them. They may feel guilty or like they’ll say the wrong thing or even feel like they have to lie. Our best advice is to focus on yourself. And if your curiosity gets the best of you, find other sources.
Give a Little When You Can
This can be hard to navigate when co-parenting, but you can be upset about what happened in your relationship while creating a loving and healthy environment for your family. If your co-parent asks for an extra evening or weekend with the kids, being generous without compromising your time can go a long way.
Kids Aren’t Confidants
When kids take on the caretaker role, they are forced to put aside their own feelings and instead take on yours, which can make it harder for them to fully process everything around them. Friends, family members, and professionals are the ones you can turn to.
When It Comes to Special Events, Suck It Up
There might be about a million other places you and your co-parent would rather be than in a room together, but when it comes to special events like birthdays and school programs, you just have to grin and bear it. You don’t have to be best friends, but putting your differences aside for a short time will mean the world to your little one. If this is impossible, work out a schedule that is fair to both parents, and make sure you agree before pitching the plan to your kids so there is no guilt or remorse from anyone involved.