Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents
Parenting after divorce comes with unique challenges. There are several ways you can approach co-parenting to improve communication, avoid conflict, and help your child.
Your marital union may be over, but you are still a mom or dad
Research shows that having two loving parents actively involved in the lives of their children is best for kids, regardless of marital status.
Shared parenting, or co-parenting, is linked to better outcomes for children of all ages, across a wide range of emotional, behavioral, and physical health measures. There are of course exceptions to this. Serious issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse may be present, in which case the child would not benefit from a shared parenting relationship. However, if you are entering a co-parenting relationship after divorce, there are several ways you can navigate this new situation successfully.
This new relationship with your ex is about your children, not one another
Making sure your child’s needs are met and setting a healthy example are the most important factors as a co-parent.
Showing respect to one another will help your child navigate this new relationship as well. You and your co-parent should come to an agreement that disparaging one another in front of the kids or allowing the kids to speak disrespectfully about either parent is forbidden.
It is important to keep your children out of disagreements with your co-parent and avoid using them as messengers between each other. TalkingParents can help you and your co-parent communicate. Our service allows you to call and message each other securely, share information and schedules, and make accountable payments.
You are co-parenting to provide your children with stability and support
Consistency is crucial for your kids. You should not be working at cross-purposes with your ex or trying to outshine them. It is important for you and your co-parent to work on a detailed plan to raise your children, while setting boundaries that work for both of you. Consistent routines, rules, and communication styles are beneficial to kids if both co-parents can agree.
Doing what is best for your child may not always equate to a 50-50 split for you and your co-parent
If one parent travels frequently, it might make more sense for the children to spend more time with the other parent. If one parent has always taken the kids to sports practices, co-parents may consider keeping it that way. It is important to talk to your children (without putting them in the middle) if they are old enough to express their opinions.
Think of your new relationship with your spouse like a business
Keeping it professional is key. You likely wouldn’t disparage your co-workers or boss, even if you disagree. Communicate as you would with a colleague: cordially, respectfully,and clearly.
Make requests of your co-parent, not demands. Don’t criticize, blame, or accuse him or her. If you catch yourself starting a sentence with “You always” or “You never,” consider restating it. Avoid using profanity with your co-parent, just as you would in the workplace.
Make appointments to talk about business related to your children just like you would at work. It can be helpful to prepare notes ahead of time so you can address schedules, academic reports, or behavioral issues. Ensure you both walk away with a clear understanding of what the next steps are going to be and why. Be prepared to compromise.
Your children are not your outlet for expressing hurt feelings, feelings of anger, or even hostility toward your ex
Expressing anger towards your children because of your divorce is an unhealthy habit. Being cognizant of this behavior is crucial to stopping it. If you feel you are struggling with anger, depression, or hostility in the wake of your divorce, consider talking to a licensed professional. Handling these emotions upfront can help prevent them from interfering with your relationship with your kids.
Your children are not your caretakers. It is important to recognize that there is going to be grief and loss as a result of the divorce, including loss of time with your kids. Don’t be afraid to work out your feelings with a counselor or other professional and seek support from friends and relatives.