This is a guest post.
“The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other”Jane Blaustone
What is a divorce for the spouses? An opportunity to get out of an irretrievably broken marriage and start a new life. And what is a divorce for their children? Possibly a trauma they will discuss with their therapist years later.
It may be challenging to cooperate with your ex-spouse to create a healthy environment for your kid. However, it is vitally important to master co-parenting after separation. If you are faced with the question of how to co-parent after the divorce, this article will provide you with five essential tips on your way to effective co-parenting.
How to Co-Parent After a Divorce
Tip #1. Learn to Cope
“In case of a cabin pressure emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.”
As the parents, you are the pillars of your child’s wellbeing. And if one pillar falls, it becomes challenging for the other to hold all the weight. Thus, your mental and physical health matter a lot.
Taking care of yourself makes you a better parent, and there are two reasons for that. First of all, when your physical and mental health is in order, you don’t have any side effects such as irritability, anger issues, depression symptoms, etc. Thus, you will be able to protect your kid’s perception of a stable and healthy parent.
Second of all, believe it or not, but you are somewhat of a role model for your kids. Even if they don’t want to dress like you or attend the same extracurricular activities as you did, you still significantly influence their future behavioral patterns.
If they see their parents full of life, eager to develop and improve themselves, and involved in creating a better life, they will follow their lead. After all, if you are already selected as a role model for your child – be a damn good one.
Tip #2. The lie doesn’t fix things
It’s common for divorcing couples to sugarcoat their divorce for children’s sake. However, this whole sugarcoating approach is wrong and, in some cases, may even become more traumatizing for a child.
Unable to get to the core of what is happening and why mom and dad don’t want to live together anymore, the child’s fragile psyche sometimes makes them believe that it’s all their fault. The best way to avoid this is to be open with your children about the separation.
Even though they didn’t have a say in the decision, they may still feel heard and know that their feelings and desires matter. So let your kids feel appreciated by hearing them out. This way, they will be able to move on and accept the new reality.
Tip #3. Focus on the present
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’ “Eleanor Roosevelt
No matter where you and your spouse left things, you have to focus on moving forward, especially for your children. Nothing good comes from digging into the past and dwelling on it. Not only is it painful, but it can also make you focus on all the bad stuff and point fingers at those responsible for those things happening.
Your child must never be caught in the crossfire of your old memories and grudges. Instead, divorcing parents should learn to be present and make this present work for their kids. Successful co-parenting after divorce is about the ability to create a new healthy environment and engage your child in a new life, which is not a bit worse than the one they had before.
Tip #4. Keep your relationship amicable and respectful
Even if you can’t come up with one good reason to keep in touch with your ex – do it for your children. Co-parenting through a divorce does involve a lot of hard work from both parents, but you should never forget what’s at stake. Of course, it’s impossible to avoid all disagreements, but keep it respectful. It may seem challenging at first, but you have to learn to communicate effectively with your ex-spouse.
Forget about bad-mouthing your ex-partner. It will only show you as a small person and undermine the credibility of your child’s other parent and their ability to treat others with respect. And as we all know – respect starts at home.
Tip #5. Be there for your children
“I’ll be there for you like I’ve been there before.”The Rembrandts. Theme song from “Friends.”
A child-friendly path through a divorce hinges on the parent’s desire to cooperate and their communication skills. Most of the co-parenting agreements essential for a child’s wellbeing remain invisible for a child. Still, the quality time you spend together and your support are the most valuable components forming your relationship. Selecting the best school and investing in a saving account for your child, alas, go unnoticeable for the children, while your presence at the soccer game or their theater performance means the world to them.
Being there is not solely about supporting your kid; you should also have each other’s back with your ex-partner. The partnership means that you won’t leave a child abandoned or neglected if one of you fails to take them for the weekends or stick to the plan for Saturday night. Unfortunately, these things happen, and as loving and respectful parents, you should be able to do some damage control for each other.
There is nothing more important for parents than their children and their prosperity. Thus, we all need to learn to adapt to co-parenting. It’s not about being eye candy. Co-parenting is about giving the child the best chance for a promising future. Loving and caring parents willing to cooperate may easily avoid their child’s disengagement and master effective co-parenting.
And yet, if you find it challenging to reach common ground with your ex-spouse and have difficulties navigating the new life, you can always consider a family mediator service. Sometimes we all need help with our struggles, and it’s totally worth asking for it.
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach with expertise in sustainability and mindfulness. She helps people overcome life challenges and build a happier life.