By Rachael Pace
You don’t have to be married or in love to parent children together successfully. Yes, believe it or not, raising children with your ex doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
With a few adjustments and a lot of patience, you can make your new arrangements work without your every encounter ending in a war of words.
It takes work to sift through the emotional damage caused by a severe breakup or divorce, but you can learn to put your differences behind you and put the emotional, physical, and financial needs of your children first.
Don’t let your new circumstances get you down or take you off your path of parenthood. This article provides 7 game-changing tips on how to co-parent effectively with your ex.
- Speak Positively About One Another
Make it a point to speak positively about your ex – especially in front of your kids! Hearing negative comments about their parent can be, at most, emotionally damaging and at least, irritating and unnecessary. Your children do not need to hear the nitty-gritty details about your breakup. It is not their business, nor should you make it your aim to turn your child against their other parent.
It may seem tempting, but trust us, it’s better for everyone if you both try to remain civil.
You would not want your ex to say hurtful or untrue things about you in front of your children. Then likewise, set a good example and behave the way you hope your ex is behaving around your kids.
Research regarding stress and anxiety in children post-divorce found that children from broken homes often assume the responsibilityto mend their parent’s broken relationship. This can create unwanted childhood anxiety and chronic stress in your little ones.
There are many other ways that divorce negatively affects children, such as emotionally, financially, and educationally.
Do not add to the list of things your kids have to worry about by cutting your spouse out of the loop.
Communicate with one another regularly about your children. Keep each other up to date about school events, your child’s friendships, and other emotional or physical milestones.
- Share Boundaries and Rules
Any marriage coursewill tell you that consistency is key. To what, you might ask? Nearly everything! Consistency in your relationship, co-parenting strategies, and when raising children is essential. This is why it is so important to discuss rules that should be obeyed across both homes.
Rules, punishments for breaking those rules, bedtimes, mealtimes, and chores should be maintained as well as possible from house to house. Not only does this make it easier to parent your kids and help avoid your children playing favorites, (“But mom always lets us stay up late!”) but it also sets them up for a successfully structured routine no matter where they are.
- Be Respectful
The last thing you want when you’re trying to co-parent a child with your ex is to deal with constant arguing, screaming, and awkward exchanges.
It can be difficult to show respect to your ex-spouse, particularly if they did something to betray you or if you were not the one who wanted your marriage to end.
Moving on from the emotional wreckage of a breakup or divorce, especially when you still share custody of your children, can be tricky. But it’s important to be respectful.
Studies show that parent outlook affects child behavior. This means that if you treat your partner with dignity and strive to see the positive in your new circumstances, your child will be less likely to be left with the emotional traumaof a breakup.
- Find Support That Works For You
Even if you’re exhausted or you feel like you’ve tried everything to make co-parenting work, don’t give up!
Many co-parents find it helpful to attend personal therapy, divorce coaching or take marriage courses online.
Marriage courses may help save your co-parenting experience.
Whether you take them together or in the comfort of your own home, you will learn how to build empathy for one another, how to factor traditions into your post-divorce family life and learn how to communicate despite your differences.
- Try To Be Friends
Studies show that marital satisfaction is higherwhen spouses are best friends. Just because you’re not in a romantic relationship with your spouse doesn’t mean that friendship would have no benefit on your co-parenting relationship.
Setting boundaries is a big help when it comes to being friends or at least congenial with your ex. Make a list of subjects you should probably steer clear of talking about (new partners, the reason you broke up, finances, etc.) and focus on things that you share in common as a family.
Game nights, family dinner, and other outings that involve your children are all wonderful options for spending quality time together.
Children function on a healthier level with their parents when they put effortinto their parental relationship. Of course, being friends with an ex may not be an option for everyone. But, maintaining a civil relationship will be beneficial for all parties involved.
- Offer the Benefit of the Doubt
Did your ex mean to drop the kids off late, thereby throwing off your schedule for the week? Did they forget about the kids one night to be cruel, or did they have a legitimate reason?
Your ex may no longer be the main focus of your life, but you still share a child together. Therefore, make it your goal to be forgiving and give each other the benefit of the doubt when things go wrong.
Not doing so could easily result in unnecessary arguments and stress.
Don’t let your breakup be the end of your co-parenting experience. You and your ex can make your new parenting arrangement work by utilizing marriage courses, maintaining appropriate communication, and setting healthy boundaries with one another. Following these suggestions will be beneficial to you, your spouse, and your children.
Author Bio:Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.