Co-parenting after divorce can be a major hassle, but it is in the very best interests of the child to do so. For those not familiar with the term, it basically means that you work together with your partner to help raise your children, rather than working separately to raise them which is often called parallel parenting.
The problems with parallel parenting are manifold. You are both parenting in different styles, different times, and conflicts will happen. Children are much happier when there is consistency in their lives and divorce breaks that to start with – then parents doing very different things will break it even further.
In fact, the less you talk and plan with your ex about how to be parents to your children, the more problems you are going to have with your ex, your kids, and possibly the law as well. Children of all ages simply will not understand how parents can divorce and then seem to become such different people with different rules afterwards. Children of parallel parenting also learn very quickly how to play each parent off against each other to get what they want and the habits they from here will stay with them for long into their adulthood – especially the bad examples set by parents who cannot work together and solve problems.
So, instead of parenting without the other persons involvement – the better way to handle things for your own sanity, and the mental health of your children is working together and developing a co-parenting plan. This basically means you must meet with your ex and create a plan that you can both stick to when it comes to parenting and get their absolute buy in on the idea for the sake of your children. Some tips to help make this happen:
- Treat this like a business partnership. Do not go into emotions, or legalities, or anything else. Be as logical an unemotional as possible and always be matter of fact and calm when working out co-parenting. Keep a formal tone as if it was a business transaction not two ex lovers talking.
- Negotiations will happen. When you are living together and are married you will have made concessions to allow your partner her way sometimes, and she would hopefully do the same for you. Your lifestyle, and your parenting styles would be similar but still different – but the proximity and willingness to make it work would simply happen as you both try to be good parents and partners. After a divorce though,most people want to get their own way as they change their lives and this can come into conflict with your wants for parenting. So in line with treating this as a business partnership, you must also negotiate things with a bit of give and take. You cannot demand anything – but you cannot be walked over either – you must be flexible.
- Be kid focused. When you talk about co-parenting do not get sidetracked onto anything else at all. Keep the focus of your arrangements and talks with your children as he only topic of conversation. If she tries to drag it away from kids just ask her to concentrate on the parenting side whenever you are engaging in a talk about co-parenting
- Listen. I know the LAST thing you want to listen to is your ex-wife. It can be painful and grating especially if they are unkind. However, if you keep your talks kid focused you need to listen and not just switch off because you need to know what is going on in her life and household as it related to the kids.
- Schedule everything. Get organised and get a schedule going. Put all agreements down on paper and digital form and make sure you stick to it, and make sure she does as well. Children who know what to expect and when are happier and less prone to anxiety and outbursts.
- Update your parenting plan an schedule each year. Kids get older, circumstances change, stuff happens. If your pans and schedules are old and outdated to what is happening now, then you are going to have to revise it. Sometimes you might do this every 6 months, or if a big change happens such as moving away, remarrying and so forth. But at least once a year reorganise your co-parenting plan.
It might be easier said that done – especially when you are trying to cope with post divorce life yourself, and not doing too well at it. However, this is a fundamental piece of the puzzle of divorce that will grant you much greater satisfaction with your life because you know you have done the right thing by your children.