Sharing the duty of raising children is hard enough when you’re still married but what happens when you’re co-parenting as a divorced parent?
To put it mildly, it can get a bit complicated.
No matter what challenges may arise; the biggest thing that you always need to remember is that your kids come first. This means that you need to worry about what is best for them, no matter how inconvenient or frustrating it can be at times.
We’ve outlined the top 5 co-parenting challenges that we see that most divorced couples deal with and how you can effectively handle them.
Negative talk about the other parent
Make an agreement with your ex to never talk badly about the other in front of the children. As tempting as it might be to talk about one parent not picking the kids up on time (or at all), it takes an adult to keep their mouth shut in front of the kids. You might think you’re somehow “winning” with the children but it will do more harm than good in the long run. This is also true when you have opinions to share about whose “fault” it is that things fell apart.
Setting disciplinary guidelines
If there are rules at one parent’s house and a free for all at the other, it creates stress for the children. They crave guidelines even if they don’t always want to obey. Working with your ex, establish general disciplinary guidelines for raising your kids, even as simple as having the same bedtime at both homes. This establishes consistency, making them less likely to act out or get involved in self-destructive behaviors as they get older.
Kids as spies
As much as you’d like to know more about your ex’s dating life (or anything non-child related), it’s none of your business. You’re not together for a reason but it’s a bit of complicated web when you’re co-parenting children and tempted to use the kids to get (or give) information. Don’t use the kids as spies. The only information you need to know about your ex is how they are caring for your children.
Communicate with your ex
Never let the children be the source of news about your life to your ex especially for big events like moving or remarriage. It will only serve to create tension between both of you, leaving the children caught in the middle. Work together via phone or email for the sake of your children.
Separate feelings from behavior
You’re divorced for a reason but there will be times when you have to be in the same room. School events and parent teacher conferences provide opportunities for you to be together to support the children but it’s also a time when old feelings can be brought to the surface. Don’t avoid joint events. If you find you’re having a difficult time, that’s OK. Walk away, take a deep breath, and try not to let the kids see how annoyed you might be. You can only control you, not the other person.
Don’t let your co-parenting challenges keep you from being the best parent you can be. Focus all of your attention on your children and working with your ex to make things work for them. You’re divorced for a reason.
Even when you’re feeling frustrated, the kids don’t need to know. They just want to be loved and protected by both of their parents.
Engaging with an attorney to protect your family is never an easy step. Whether you need to protect your family from the unthinkable or restructure your family through collaborative divorce, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to schedule a consultation with Michelle Ogborne, please visit the scheduling page to get started.