Co-Parenting After Divorce. Oftentimes parents can lose sight of parenting during or after a divorce. There are ways to work as a team when parenting after a divorce even if there were many disagreeable terms while in the marriage. It is possible to have a healthy relationship between divorced parents with kids.
Co-parenting After Divorce, Healthy Relationship Between Divorced Parents
Separating the Marriage from Parenting
Children require a strong sense of stability regardless of their parent’s success at marriage. Determining the difference between marriage and parenting is often a difficult but necessary challenge to overcome. A marriage is comprised of two individuals that willingly join their lives together, while parenting involves unwilling parties.
Parenting involves providing love, safety and security, discipline and teaching. Once the understanding of marriage is separated from parenting, two partners in parenting can work together to provide for the emotional and physical needs of their children.
Decide on a plan to discuss marital issues or adult issues away from the children. If it is necessary to communicate through email or in writing about conflicts, that may be a place to start. It is important to agree beforehand to be respectful and courteous in front of the children.
Children can feel conflict even if words are not spoken or exchanged, so rehearsing an exchange with a friend or family can work towards changing any negative interactions. Take some time out to have fun with your children. This can offset some negative emotions, and provoke some healthy bonding.
Setting the Rules and Boundaries
When parenting children of any age, it is crucial to their development that rules are kept consistent. Mom and dad can jot down some rules they feel should be kept consistent. It is important to beware of personal agendas when making a list of rules that are important for the children’s well being.
Be sure to avoid confrontational issues at the beginning, and be prepared and willing to compromise. Set a time to discuss these rules with each other and create a master rules sheet for both houses. It may be beneficial to have a non-biased third party mediate the first couple of sessions until emotional issues have calmed. It is most important to handle all disputes in private and never in front of the children.
The biggest hurdle but the most important is to remain a team when parenting. The benefit to the children can be extreme. If an issue occurs that both parties are disagreeable on, and it is not possible to discuss it with the ex-wife or ex-husband, agree to table the decision until both parties can agree in private on a compromise.
Children’s security is often based upon the relationship and consistency between their parents. If parents treat each other with respect, the children typically gain a strong sense of respect for themselves and others around them. Unspoken language can be more apparent and influential than spoken words, so it is vital that each party is aware of their behavior and non-verbal communication.
It might be a good idea to take a communications class or a parenting class with the ex-spouse to collaborate on parenting styles and work together in co-parenting after divorce. It is important to always remember that this teamwork is for the children, and for their emotional health which will affect them far behind their childhood years.
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Practice Healthy Conflict Resolution
Conflicts arise in even the healthiest relationships, and can be a growing experience for each party involved. There are big differences between handling conflict in a healthy way versus an unhealthy way. It is vital to never engage in negative conflict in front of the children.
Practicing healthy conflict resolution takes emotional control and a willingness to participate. The very first aspect of healthy communication is to let the other person know that you hear them, and that their words are important to you. Even if you do not agree with them, it is important to let them know that you heard them. Sometime repeating back what they have just said can help illustrate the fact that you hear what they are communicating.
You may try by saying, “so what I hear you saying is….” This will also give the other party an opportunity to change the way that they are communicating if their message is not being received the way they have intended. Many communication problems arise from not saying or hearing words correctly.
Practicing this type of healthy conflict resolution can help in all aspects of life, work, friendships, parenting and so on. Leading by this example will also be beneficial to the children and teaching them wonderful life lessons. Effective communication can lead to success in most aspects of life.
It is important not to use revenge as a form of punishment in an argument, or to use accusatory statements which can inflame a situation. Starting with “I feel…” instead of “You did this….” will work wonders in opening up the lines of communication.
It is also good to stay away from words like “always,” and “never” which tend to add fuel to a burning fire. One of the important facts to remember is that many times emotions make us feel like certain situations are emergencies when they are really not.
If emotions begin to get heated, it is most important to step away from the situation, and make specific arrangements for a time and date to discuss the matter further. Stay calm and use stress management techniques to get through the emotional time. Once emotions have calmed down, the situation can look completely different.
Managing Important Issues
Identify important decisions, and make an agreement to manage important decisions together. There are certain essential decisions that need to be taken care of. These can include medical concerns or needs, school, religion, and financial issues.
The burden of these decisions should never be left on the child’s shoulders. Put these concerns at the top of the communication list when they occur. Once secure living environments are established routines and schedules, it will make life simpler. Each parent should have clear responsibilities and be aware of these.
This can eliminate many conflicts before they occur. The most essential aspect of building a healthy relationship between between divorced parents with kids and a successful co-parenting after divorce is to always put the kids first. Everything else will fall into place.
References of Co-Parenting After Divorce
- Jocelyn Block, M.A. and Melinda Smith, M.A. Last updated: December 2016., “Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents” http://helpguide.org/mental/coparenting_shared_parenting_divorce.htm#online
- Image Credit: By böhringer friedrich (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons