Parents deciding to get divorced or separate is commonplace nowadays in the United States. Getting a divorce or separating can be a traumatic collective experience for yourself, your ex-spouse, and your child (ren). Some divorce settlements are unfortunately full of disagreements and legal complications, and they can tend to drag out over a lengthy amount of time and much longer than everyone anticipated.
Negotiating parenting arrangements for your children and managing to organize a feasible schedule of who gets which child during which days of the week can be a real hassle. To help newly divorced or separated parents, we have come up with a guide on how they can navigate the world of co-parenting.
Your Children’s Needs Must Come First and Be Your Number One Priority
Your children’s welfare and needs should be your number one focus, regardless of any issues or disputes you may have with your ex and the co-parent of your child (ren). Remembering to always put your child and their needs first can at times be difficult for co-parents that have gone through a messy divorce. But it’s important you both do your very best to provide your child with a stable environment to enable them to grow up feeling happy and flourish.
If the differences between you and your ex-spouse are now negatively affecting both of your abilities to raise your children, then you may want to think about visiting a family therapist to help you both work to resolve these issues. A good family therapy should be able to remind you both that the most important thing is concentrating on doing what is best for your children. After all, being a parent of a young child is one of the greatest responsibilities that you can have in life.
Agree with on the Things That You Both Have Shared Responsibility For
It’s very normal for separated parents to adopt contrasting parent styles and disagree when it comes to things such as rules on bedtimes, discipline, household chores, and so on. Your personality differences may have contributed somewhat to your decision to go your different ways and separate.
However, when it comes to the major parenting decisions that will have a great impact on your child’s upbringing, it’s crucial you both stay on the same page and agree with one another to provide your child with all the support they need. These shared parenting responsibilities may include things like your child’s medical care, their schooling, and so on. You may want to take a look at Onward, an app helping divorced and separated parents manage shared expenses for their children.
Good Communication is Essential
If you have only very recently separated from your co-parent, you may find face-to-face discussions with them too much as it can stir up lots of emotions and ends up making the situation worse and upsetting both of you.
Thanks to the internet and modern technology, there are many online communication tools that you can use to discuss issues regarding your child (ren) with your co-parent without physically having to go and see them in-person. Make the most of video software apps such as Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. You can also decide to discuss coparenting issues by having regular telephone conversations.
Using the silent treatment against one another will only lead to a breakdown in communication and further upset your children. Try and be civil with your ex, and keep lines of communication open by remaining on speaking terms with one another.
Don’t Forget to Look After Yourself
Self-care is important in ensuring that you keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally so that you can be the best possible co-parent and provide lots of support to your child. You may get some much needed self-care by relaxing and taking time out of your day to have a luxury bath in the evening, exercising to burn off some steam and feel energized, doing some yoga or having a relaxing massage.
Provide Your Child with Stability by Sticking to Your Parenting Schedule
Try and avoid constantly making alterations to your parenting arrangements. Organizing your time so you can stick to the same schedule will give your child a sense of security. Children need to feel that they can rely on regularly seeing their parents, frequently cancelling parenting arrangements will mess your child(ren) around and make them feel insecure. Sometimes changes to your schedule may be unavoidable.
For example, if you have small children and you or your coparent has a medical appointment out of town that you simply cannot miss and clashes with the time you are supposed to have them round your house. If a change to your parenting schedule is absolutely necessary, make sure you communicate this with your co-parent and provide them sufficient warning.
Be Positive and Don’t Badmouth Your Coparent
Make sure you appreciate valuable things that your co-parent does for your child. Perhaps even praise their approaches to parenting in front of your child. Your child should feel reassured that they can talk comfortably that about their other parent without upsetting you and making you angry. One co-parent constantly badmouthing the other is a negative experience for children
Remember, the adjustment period following a recent separation or divorce can be a tough time for all family members.
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