Separating or going through a divorce is one of life’s most difficult passages. Working with your co-parent to raise healthy, loving and stable children despite your split is another difficult task. But it is doable, as many happy adult children of divorced parents can attest to.
To get you started, here are some co-parenting tips. These will help you understand how to initiate the co-parenting dialogue in order to provide your children with a balanced and happy upbringing. Even though you are no longer all living under the same roof, by employing these successful co-parenting strategies, you can keep everyone working as a team.
Start The Conversation
Prior to the creation of any new parenting guidelines and changes to the child’s new lifestyle, parents should start a conversation. Now, it’s completely understandable that creating a co-parenting relationship can be difficult in even the most amicable dynamics.
If you or your spouse recently filed for divorce, consider going the collaborative route. The collaborative divorce process in New Hampshire allows parents the opportunity to hash out divorce and child related details with the help of their respective family law attorneys, along with neutral experts such as mental health and financial professionals.
Another option is to work with a mediator who can help navigate the best way to find an agreement. Over time, and once you have set up some ground rules for yourself, and for how the relationship will be maintained, it should become easier.
During your planning, do:
- Discuss how you will handle visitation, holidays and events.
- Create healthy and productive behavioral guidelines for raising your child that you will each adhere to in an effort to create some level of consistency in their lives.
- Discuss the roles of extended family members.
- Establish lines of open communication regarding all aspects of your child’s development. This includes being able to compare notes on disciplinary situations prior to punishments and other developments that impact your child’s well-being.
- While it can be challenging, you and your co-parent need to come to an understanding that in the event of any major lifestyle change, that you will keep each other informed about changing circumstances. The child should never be your primary source of information.
- Work to commit to conducting yourself with emotional integrity.
Work to maintain a positive example for your child and:
- Don’t sabotage your child’s relationship with the other parent.
- Don’t use your child as a pawn to get back at or hurt your ex.
- Don’t allow your child to speak badly about the other parent, stepparent or caregiver.
- Don’t use your child to gain information on your ex and their new spouse.
- Don’t transfer hurt feelings and frustrations toward your ex onto your child.
- Don’t force your child to choose a side when there is a conflict with scheduling.
- Don’t depend too much on your child for companionship or support because you are dealing with your divorce. Your child is not your therapist. Children are not equipped to understand adult problems, nor should they have to. They should be allowed to focus on their own developmental stages.
By creating a collaborative, co-parenting inter-family environment, you give your children a far better chance at being emotionally healthy and resilient. You also help your children feel safe taking appropriate and necessary risks that help them grow. Children thrive when they know they have a safe, loving haven at both homes where they are seen, heard and feel a sense of belonging.