By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
While moving through divorce can seem like an insurmountable obstacle, for many parents it is just the beginning of a new and equally intimidating challenge: co-parenting your children. Hats off to all of you who have chosen to remain in your children’s lives as co-parents. It means both of you care deeply about your children. And you both want to continue raising them in the least-disruptive possible manner.
Of course, not all parents can share the co-parenting process in this way. For some couples it is not appropriate to even attempt it. But other couples are determined to co-parent and choose cooperative options. They want to live relatively close to one another so as not to disturb the school, sports and other related schedules of their children. They certainly deserve credit and acknowledgement.
This is a complex topic that can’t be glossed over with a few simple how-tos. It is based on sincere levels of communication and a sense of trust between two former spouses. When handled with care, your children enjoy the security and comfort of being with their other parent when they are not with you. You are less dependent on strangers as caretakers in their lives, and that is a win-win all around.
Respecting Your Co-Parenting Relationship
One of the best things you can do for your children is to transition smoothly to co-parenting with your former spouse. It won’t always be easy. There will certainly be challenges along the way. But here are some things to remember that will help make your co-parenting relationship work now – and for years to come.
1) Don’t bad-mouth your ex around the kids, ever! If kids ask questions, give them age- appropriate answers that are honest but not judgmental. Kids are hurt and feel guilty when the parent they love is put-down by their other parent.
2) Be mindful about sharing adult information. Don’t discuss those issues with your child, as tempting as it may be. Kids can’t process adult issues and it robs them of their childhood when you bring that up.
3) Never fight around your children. It hurts, confuses and impacts them emotionally and psychologically! They are helpless to fix the battles and often blame themselves for your conflict. Keep discord away from their eyes and ears. They’ll thank you for it when they’ve grown.
4) Prioritize your ex. Always offer your co-parent the opportunity for special time with the kids. Prioritize that parent before involving a new relationship partner, i.e.: taking your teen for their drivers test or tryouts for a new sport.
5) Share special occasions. Consider bringing both parents together for family events: celebrating birthdays, graduations and other significant events. Be considerate of one another as co-parents to eliminate stress so your kids can enjoy a sense of family.
6) Learn to let go. You and your ex won’t agree on all things so decide to pick your battles regarding parenting issues. Determine what’s worth discussing and what you can’t control and need to release.
When you ignore any of these basic communication principles, you set yourself up for conflict, jealousy, stress and tension. Breaking these rules sabotages your sense of trust with your ex. That opens the door to mind games, retaliations and discord for everyone in the family. Remember: when that happens, your children are the ones who pay the price!
Be the hero in your relationship with your child’s other parent. Cooperate. Collaborate. Let go. Be flexible. Be gracious and do one another favors. You are much more likely to get them back in return.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of the acclaimed ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids About The Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide To Preparing Your Children — With Love! To get her free co-parenting ebook, coaching services, expert interviews, e-courses and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting, visit: https://www.childcentereddivorce.com
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