Co-parenting after a divorce is not easy. You may doubt your ex’s parenting abilities, worry that your children will favor your ex over you, and feel infuriated whenever you and your ex are in the same room. Even though it can be challenging, co-parenting can help your children gain stability, security, and a close relationship with both parents. If you focus on putting your children first, you can overcome resentment and hostility, developing a cordial relationship with your ex in order to help your children thrive.
Unless there are serious problems such as domestic violence or substance abuse, having both parents involved in your children’s lives helps ensure the success and mental well-being of your children. Research indicates that co-parenting can reduce depression and anxiety of divorced kids.
Co-parenting sets a positive example for children to learn about diplomacy. When your children see you and your ex interact peacefully, they see that it’s possible to treat someone respectfully, even if they have disagreements. They learn how to put aside grudges and work through problems.
Successful co-parenting helps kids maintain a close relationship with both parents, which helps them live more balanced and happier lives.
5 tips for successful co-parenting
- Put aside your hurt and anger. It can be difficult to get past the painful history with your ex. Making joint decisions about the children and coordinating drop offs and pickups can be emotionally draining. Feeling angry and upset is normal, but you don’t have to let your feelings control your behavior. Focus on doing what’s best for your children and putting your children’s needs before your own. Never vent to your child or criticize your co-parent in front of your children. Remember the goal is to ensure your children’s happiness, success, and well-being.
- Aim for consistency. Divorce can be destabilizing for children. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same in both houses, but ideally, parents should try to maintain the same basic expectations. Parents should be on the same page about how to discipline and not blatantly contradict each other.
- Never put your children in the middle. If you have something to tell your co-parent, don’t use your kids as messengers. Don’t badmouth your co-parent in front of your children. Your children have a right to a loving relationship with both parents without feeling like they have to pick sides.
- Maintain good communication with your co-parent. Even though communicating can sometimes seem like torture, remember the higher purpose is your child’s well-being. Listen. Be respectful. Keep the conversations kid focused.
- Make transitions easier. Switching houses can be difficult for children. Reuniting with one parent means saying goodbye to the other parent. Give kids the space they need to transition. Establish a routine. Make sure your children have basic items (toothbrush, pajamas, etc.) at both houses.
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