Parenting and co-parenting in divorce requires some special attention. None of us wants to bring harm to our own children but there are times when the best decision for everyone in the family is a divorce. While divorce presents its own set of issues to be worked through, it can also give each parent the opportunity to build a stronger relationship with their children and teach them about how to deal effectively with life’s difficult times.
Overall, parenting isn’t easy and this holds as true for married couples as it does for divorced ones. Divorce does, though, bring a new set of challenges. TruNorth Divorce has written before on parenting through divorce. In this piece we want to provide a short list of best practices to help divorcing and newly divorced couples navigate the unique issues that parenting as you transition from a single household to two separate ones.
1. Talk to Your Child(ren) About Your Decision to Divorce
Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own emotions that it’s hard to step outside of them and take the time to check in with our children. Talking to your kids about your decision to divorce can create a safe space in which you can help them better understand your choice, and it can provide them with a platform to express difficult emotions.
Divorce impacts the entire household, and it’s not an easy topic to broach when emotions are still raw. Opening a dialog with your children about your divorce in a neutral and calm way and allowing them to ask tough questions and to express their fears will help your children better accept your decision to divorce and work through their feeling about it in a healthy way.
2. Create a Coparenting Plan
How you decide to move forward with parenting after divorce can have a profound impact on family dynamics and your children. To a significant degree, consistency and harmony between their parents is key to children’s mental well-being in the future.
CustodyXChange.com helps parents build sound parenting plans. Per the experts behind CustodyXChange.com, here are some of the reasons why negotiating a parenting plan can benefit your children:
It allows you and the other parent to state your goals for your children
- It sets up communication habits between you and the other parent
- It states the legal consequences if one of you don’t keep to the plan
- It results in a clear visitation schedule you can both refer to
- It lessens tension between parents and children because the basic daily decisions are already established
- It forces you to get familiar with divorce and custody laws in your state
- It often reduces your legal fees when you don’t have it created by a third party
3. Don’t Put Your Children in the Middle
Make a good faith effort to put any hurt feelings aside and shift your attention to what’s best for your children. Establishing some good ground rules can help minimize the impact of your emotions and will help you focus on fostering healthy communication and collaboration.
Using children as messengers, sharing negative feelings, and venting or speaking negatively about your ex-partner drags them into the middle of things. Any conflict or issues between you and your ex are just that—between you and your ex. Children want a solid relationship with both parents. Keeping these emotions out things will help you turn your attention to your children’s happiness and wellbeing.
4. Keep Lines of Communication Open
Communication is a substantial ingredient in the recipe for successful parenting, and it’s arguably even more important for divorced parents living separately but parenting together. While you are both full-time parents, the time spent with your children is now divided. Operating in silos can leave your coparent in the dark and create conflict—reiterating how important it is for coparents to be on the same page. The only way to ensure that is through open communication.
Discuss issues that crop up with your former spouse and do so as they arise. Don’t just enumerate the problems, fill your co-parent in on the positives too. Communication between households is crucial to maintaining a united parenting front and making sure that both parents are aware of what’s going on in their children’s lives. One resource you may consider to assist with effective communication is Our Family Wizard, an online custody and co-parenting app
There is no greater common ground between two individuals than the well-being of their children and divorce doesn’t change that. Hopefully, these post-divorce parenting practices can help you negotiate the murky waters of post-divorce coparenting. For more resources on all things divorce, explore our blog.
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