Co-parenting describes a parenting situation where the parents are no longer in a marriage, cohabitation, or romantic relationship with one another. If you are in this situation, you likely have dealt with and understand the difficulties associated with co-parenting. Co-parenting can be fraught with stress and issues, due to the circumstances. The tips below will assist you in remaining calm, staying consistent, and avoiding or resolving conflict with your ex, which will ultimately make co-parenting a much more positive experience for both you and your children.
Make Your Children A Priority
First and foremost, remember who you are doing this for! You and your ex need to co-parent, not for yourselves, but rather for the child/children you share. You need to be there both physically and emotionally for your children, and if you are so caught up in the drama and stress of co-parenting with your ex, it may not be possible for you to be emotionally present for your children. Remind yourself that if you have a quality co-parenting relationship with your ex, then you, in turn, will have a quality relationship with your child/children.
Reassure Your Children
While children are extremely resilient and adapt quickly to change, they also do not deserve to be left in the dark during the period of time you and your ex are separating. There is absolutely no need to get the child/children involved, in fact, you should shelter them from any struggles that are properly the responsibility of the parents. However, it is essential that you talk to the child/children and let them know that they will not be abandoned, physically or emotionally, by either of their parents. Children will likely experience a huge range of emotions when they find out their parents are separating making it vitally important that parents reassure them that it is not their fault and that as parents you will do everything possible to help them through the transitional process.
Support The Other Parent And Their Role With The Children
Even though it may be extremely difficult, it is vitally important that you support your ex’s relationship with your child/children. It is important to put your differences and personal feelings aside so that the children can maximize the experience and time they have with both parents. Supporting the other parent isn’t that difficult, it is as simple as abiding by the co-parenting schedule, remaining flexible in accommodating one another, and doing your best to be cooperative.
Speak Respectfully Of One Another In Front Of The Children
The glory of being a parent is the fact that your child/children love you unconditionally and probably thinks you are one of if not the, coolest person on the planet – that is until they are teenagers. In any event, they have a right to feel this way and do not need their opinions shattered by a parent who conveys an attitude of disrespect or one who openly talks negatively about the other parent. It is important that parents in a co-parenting situation convey an attitude of respect towards one another, especially in the presence of the child/children.
Make Co-Parenting An Open Discussion With Your Ex
Co-parenting can only be successful when communication between parents is open and regular. Yes, this includes the most difficult of topics. If you and your ex are on the same page, with regard to the parenting of your child/children, then it will show that both of you are a united front. In the long run, presenting a united front will not only make it easier for the both of you to continue communicating, but it will also make the transition easier on the child/children you share. As an alternative, parties can agree to “stockpile” concerns and discussing them at periodic co-parenting meetings or can agree to address issues through phone calls or emails. Parents may feel uncomfortable having these conversations, so it may be helpful for the parents to have a mutually agreed-upon third-party present for any co-parenting conversations. Co-parenting will likely be extremely difficult, during the beginning stages; however, it is important to remember if you continue communicating openly and regularly it will become easier and more routine as time passes.
Maintain Stability For Your Children
Just because you and your ex split up, it doesn’t mean that your child/children split up with your ex’s family. It is essential that children are allowed to maintain existing relationships and friendships, it will provide them with some security and stability during what is typically a long and difficult transition.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Don’t kid yourself, this is a difficult and emotional process, despite the circumstances leading up to your decision to end your current relationship. It is important to keep yourself healthy, even more so when you have a child or children that depend on you. Make sure you are taking time for yourself. Use family, friends, informal support networks, counselors, therapists, and other resources to help you work through the process.
If you are truly struggling to co-parent, then it may be best to participate in Co-Parenting Therapy. Co-Parenting Therapy can be an effective way for each party to learn effective co-parenting strategies, which are meant to help each party resolve conflict independently, in turn, reducing or eliminating the need for on-going litigation or mediation. Co-Parenting Therapy always keeps the best interests of the children at the forefront. If co-parenting therapy isn’t for you there are a variety of resources online, that may be of great assistance.
Contact Our Family Law Division With Questions
If you continue to experience difficulty in co-parenting and you are unable to resolve your difficulties without mediation or court intervention, then you may be in a situation where the advice of counsel is necessary. If you find yourself in this situation and need some advice, contact the Family Law Team at Severson, Wogsland & Liebl by calling 701-297-2890.