There is no doubt that co-parenting after divorce is one of the toughest tasks anyone can experience. It can be very frustrating, stressful, and even painful to see your dreams of having a happy family shattered.
As a Marriage Counselor and Family Therapist, I have witnessed how disruptive the relationship with the ex can turn to. Learning to co-parent after divorce can certainly feel like putting a house together after a tornado.
And after the tornado went through, the kids are still there…
A divorcée with children should remember that the parenting relationship remains after divorce, and as such, parents have to learn that the child is the first priority. This means that there is a need to put feelings about the ex aside to ensure the child’s well-being.
You’re probably asking yourself, is this lady asking me to get along with my ex?
Since co-parenting does not mean: “liking your ex”, it does require learning to be civil and respectful to one another. I understand that this may be the hardest part of the whole process. If this is your situation, you are not alone!
Here are my 9 tips to successful co-parenting after divorce.
9 TIPS TO SUCCESSFUL CO-PARENTING AFTER DIVORCE
After the dissolution of marriage, your parenting duties remain intact. Good communication is the key here even though you may feel resentful, hurt or angry with your ex-partner or with the whole situation. For your own sake and to reduce conflict effects, consider the following 9 tips when co-parenting:
From now on, both parents have to focus on their child’s needs only, and as such, conversations should focus only on this matter.
The parents should talk to the child about what’s going to happen and how the family will change. It’s okay if you feel emotional and if your child notices it.
Whenever you need to discuss something with your former spouse, pick up the phone or send a text message. Don’t send messages through your child.
Keep a good and constant communication with your ex-spouse to inform him/her about immunizations, school activities, doctor’s visits, school events, etc.
Try to keep the child’s routine as intact as possible.
Agree on some general rules the child has to follow at both households. Try to set the same limits and consequences regarding bedtime, homework, curfews, etc.
Remember to use a respectful language with your ex – no sarcasm, no rudeness, no blaming. This is the best piece of advice I can give you to keep good communication with your ex in order to co-parent in a healthy way.
Accept that your former spouse may have a different parenting style than you. Most couples, even in happy marriages, have differences in parenting. Flexibility is key.
In case your child needs support to adjust to the split of his parents or if the shared parenting is not working out, it would be beneficial for you as parents and for the child to look for a family therapist for helping you cope with the new situation. Some indicators that could prompt this need are: the child’s academic performance changes drastically, the child does not want to spend time with one of the parents, withdrawal/isolation, sudden misbehavior, a spike in health issues, and fluctuations in weight, amongst others.
WHAT’S THE BEST FOR YOUR CHILD?
Children depend on their parents. Having said that, your marital problems should not interfere with your ability to make them feel safe and secure all along the process. Keep in mind to:
Make sure that your child understands that he is not responsible for the divorce.
Encourage good communication with your child. Have a conversation with your child about your expectations for the future now that the family situation has changed, and ask him about what he expects, too. Always tell the truth and remain as neutral as possible.
Answer all your kid’s questions even though some of them could be uncomfortable for you. Your answers should be appropriate for his age.
Never say bad things to your child about his dad/mom because you will hurt his feelings. Remember, your child loves your ex and no one should try to change that.
Let your child be around his other parent. If your child will spend the weekend at his other parent’s house, help him pack. Showing support to your child about his relationship with his other parent helps the child accept the divorce.
Let your child talk to his other parent whenever he wants and to your former spouse’s family, too.
Try to keep your family traditions and create new ones.
Let your child’s school know about the transition your family is going through. They may be able to provide some support to your child.
Never put your child in a situation where he/she has to choose between mom or dad.
Be there for your child. Some kids process the new situation long after the split. Be patient and empathic!
All families are different and all divorces are different, too and the reality is that divorce is difficult when children are involved. As parents, work on the best possible arrangement for the child's benefit, keeping in mind that you will be co-parenting until your child is an adult. Understand that you, your child and your ex will be transitioning into a new family life, and time is needed to adapt.
"Divorce doesn’t end a family. It changes it."
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To your child's success!
Your Therapy Friend,
Sofia Robirosa is the owner of Infinite Therapeutic Services and is a Relationships & Parenting Expert. She offers individual, couples, and family counseling to individuals seeking to enhance their relationships. Her private practice is located in Plantation, FL. She attended Nova Southeastern University for both her Bachelor and Master Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and in Business Administration. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Leader in Active Parenting for children and teens, an evidenced based program. She is also a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She is a passionately committed therapist, who thoroughly takes pride and joy from her job. She enjoys working with a culturally diverse population and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an active volunteer of the Broward Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves her family, which consists of her husband, daughter, and two dogs. Some of her interests outside of work include spending time outdoors, traveling, and dining. Read more about her at: www.infinitetherapeuticservices.com and follow her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/infinitetherapy/