Divorce can be painful, but you want to do everything you can to keep that pain from your children. Although your ex may not be your favorite person right now, he or she is still the other parent of your children. You will be working together to raise your children and studies show that the more congenial and positive you make your co-parenting, the better for your child’s well-being. Good communication is key to successful co-parenting. Here are a few tips you may find helpful in getting started:
Stay focused on the kids
Set aside your personal feelings about your ex and the end of your marriage. This is now about the kids. Never use the children as leverage or punishment and never say anything negative about your ex in front of the children. If you do argue with your ex, do not do it in front of the kids. Remember that this is someone your child loves, and who loves your child in return. Your child needs both parents in his or her life.
Come with a positive attitude
You both want what is best for your kids, even if you don’t always agree on what that is. Some people find it helpful to think about it as a business relationship to help them keep the tone polite and respectful. Be supportive and show you still care about them as a person, even if your marriage has ended.
Work out your disagreements
You may run into questions that weren’t covered in the custody agreement and need to work things out. Or perhaps you disagree over a parenting decision. Listen to your ex’s point of view and see if you can meet in the middle. Try the following tactics for working through the issue:
- Listen with an open mind
- Make requests rather than demands
- Ask for your ex’s input and validate his or her opinion
- Keep the issue in perspective
- Find a compromise or a trade-off
As your children grow, their needs may change, and you will have to revisit certain parts of your agreement.
Agree to consistent rules and expectations
Change is difficult for children and divorce can be very scary. Having consistency between homes will help them adjust. Agree to a set of rules and expectations, discipline and schedules that are consistent at both homes. That will help your child know what to expect and avoid confusion, giving them a better sense of security.
Keep each other in the loop
Choose a method of communication that works for both of you, such as calls or texts, and let each other know when things come up. For example, if your child ended up staying home from school for being ill or got a good grade on a test. These things may seem small, but they help you stay involved even when you can’t be there.
Co-parenting won’t always be easy. There will surely be disagreements and times when you think you would have made a different choice than your ex. But when it truly matters, good communication will allow you to both have a loving and meaningful relationship with your children. That is a situation where everyone wins.