At the best of times, parenting is not a smooth ride. It involves keeping your cool when you really want to just throw your hands up in despair. It means a lot of forced “zen” for both Mom and Dad. Raising kids as separated or divorced parents can be even harder, as you have to cope with the grief of a failed relationship, as well as the challenge of raising children.
Despite the challenges of parenting a child as divorcees, I’ve found that there are many couples who still manage to make it work. How did they start embracing the co-parenting relationship? When asked, these are the tips they had to offer:
Proven Tips For Successful Co-Parenting:
1. Communicate Honestly But Tactfully
Keeping the conversation focused on parenting topics will help save you both the stress of conflict.
Be honest, but try to keep your conversations relevant to parenting topics. As someone you share a long history with, there’s a good chance you may be tempted to bring up unresolved issues from the past. Keeping the conversation focused on parenting topics will help save you both the stress of conflict, when you should instead be focused on the task at hand – parenting.
2. Sometimes It’s Best To Bite Your Tongue Completely
There will obviously be some things your co-parent does that irritate you,but these behavioral issues or traits don’t necessarily impact your kids or the co-parenting relationship. Pick your battles with your co-parent. As with any relationship, compromise and mutual respect are important. If something isn’t a big deal, trying to let it go may be the best way to work together.
3. Determine And Respect Custody Agreements
Stick to the agreed schedule to the best of your ability, and be flexible if your co-parent needs to make occasional adjustments.
It can be understandably strange and frustrating – not to mention annoying – to have to deal with sharing your children’s schedule with someone who isn’t integrated in your everyday life anymore. Making a conscious effort early in the process to establish a system of weekly schedules will help avoid more stress than you can imagine. Stick to the agreed schedule to the best of your ability, and be flexible if your co-parent needs to make occasional adjustments. This mutual give and take will also make your former partner more accommodating and ready to chip in when you need to make changes to the routine.
4. Make A Routine Out Of Saying And Doing Nice Things For Your Co-Parent
Make it a point to say positive (or even just neutral) things to your kids about your co-parent. If kids won’t be seeing their other parent for more than a couple of days, encourage them to write notes or draw pictures for them. This is especially helpful if things are tense between you, as it fosters healthy compassion in co-parenting relationships. Yes, it will take some effort, but it will be well worth it.
5. Make Sure Each Kid Gets Some One-On-One Time With Both Co-Parents
One-on-one time gives your child the opportunity to discuss things that they may be awkward to bring up in front of their siblings.
If you have more than one child, it can be tough managing schedules to give each child one-on-one time with you or your co-parent. Such personal time is important for bonding and strengthening the parent child relationship. One-on-one time gives your child the opportunity to discuss things that they may be awkward to bring up in front of their siblings. It’s never easy to tell when or what a child wants to talk about, making it all the more important to provide the space for them to open up when they need to.
6. Talk To A Child Custody Lawyer, Even If Things Are Going Well
Child custody lawyers are not just for crises and conflicts. They are experts in many steps in legal situations that are similar to yours. Having someone to help navigate conversations and decisions is important even when things are going well in your co-parenting relationship.
7. Keep Negative Emotions About Your Co-Parent Away From The Kids
Avoid any critical or negative comments about your co-parent, when the kids are around.
Kids absorb a lot more than we give them credit for and the things you and your co-parent say can stick with them. It’s hard to always be guarded in your conversations, but this is all the more important when co-parenting. Whether you are talking to your kids or within hearing shot of them, you need to avoid any critical or negative comments about your co-parent. Remember, they love both of you and they need you to help them through this.
Building and maintaining relationships is no piece of cake, but to a large extent, we can make things work by being compassionate and understanding.
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