6 Co-Parenting Tips That Will Benefit Your Kids
Unfortunately, there are many marriages that end in divorce. When you and your partner make that decision to end your marriage, there’s a lot to consider. From splitting assets, possibly moving house, and sorting custody for your children, there’s a lot to do. Even if your divorce is final, your relationship with your ex is never really over if there are kids involved. So how do you go about co-parenting? How can you make sure you’re doing what’s right for the kids?
Joryn Jenkins, divorce attorney specializing in collaborate divorce and author of War or Peace: Avoid The Destruction of Divorce Court, offers this advice:
You can’t really co-parent until you’re done getting divorced. People don’t always decide at exactly the same time to get divorced. It’s not unusual that one is ready to divorce but the other is not. When that happens, if the final judgment is entered and he or she is still not acclimated to the idea, co-parenting will be difficult. The one who wanted the divorce has to wait for the slower one to catch up. If you’re too nice, you send the wrong signal. So be patient, and be nice, but be firm. Until they’re over it, don’t talk about anything except issues involving your kids.
Eat a meal together once a week, or at least monthly. Breaking bread together is a great way to make peace. After all, it’s hard to yell at someone in a restaurant. Setting this regular meeting up is a time to discuss what’s going on in your children’s life, as well as parenting issues. If you’ve remarried, include your new spouse, your children’s step-parent, in order to ensure that she, too, is on the same page.
Be nice. You’re not married to him anymore. Treat your ex like you would a friend, or, if not that, then someone from work. He’s your children’s father; she’s your children’s mother. Be polite and be respectful.
Don’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. It’s not always wise to speak your mind. When you want to say something that may be offensive or hurtful, unless you can achieve a greater good in saying it, why do that? Especially when you know that it’s not about what you say; it’s about what he hears. Sometimes it’s best for your co-parenting relationship to say nothing.
Understand that you will disagree on somethings. Hopefully, you share most of the same views on parenting. But every once in a while, you won’t. Pick your battles. Try to address each one, working through your disagreements with solid communication and problem solving skills. If you can’t agree on anything at all, seek the help of a specialist or a counselor.
Don’t take it personally. You might be tempted to translate everything he says or does as criticism of you. Remember, his world no longer revolves around you; it’s therefore quite possible that his comment, as critical as it may sound, or his action, as painful as it may feel, has nothing to do with you. Don’t let his opinion rule you. Don’t let it rattle your confidence in your ability to parent.
You can be each other’s friends or worst enemies. This is the most important advice. If you realize this, then you can make being friends (and ideal co-parents) your goal. Envision that as a reality and you can make it happen. Nobody wins, especially the kids, when you are enemies with your ex.
For more insight on the ups and downs of parenting, read this article on What Science Says Is the Most Stressful Kid Age here or Why Having It All May Not Exist.
Opening Image: Annemarieke Van Drimmelen for Vogue October 2011