When you had your children, you probably never anticipated co-parenting them after divorce. Unfortunately, that is the position where millions of parents find themselves in each year. Although sharing the joys and trials of raising your kids with a former partner is far different than co-parenting within a marriage, you and your ex can make it work well. Take these actions to better co-parent with your ex.
Find A Way to Sustain Open Communication with your Ex
No matter how much anger or resentment you may feel towards your ex, it's important to find a way to establish open, healthy communication with your ex. That's a part of co-parenting well. To best take care of the kids, you and your ex will need to fill each other in on small and big things that happen in your children's lives when the other is not around.
Although you may do a combination of texting, sending emails, talking on the phone, leaving voicemails, mailing letters and talking in person, you may find that one primary form of communication tends to work best for the two of you. Find a way to make it work in a way that won't make you consistently miserable.
Agrees to Rules that will Be Established in Both Houses
When you first get divorced, it may feel exciting to get to parent "on your own" when you have the children with you. However, the reality is that you are both parenting your children even when they're not with you. The lessons you teach your kids will resonate even when they are staying with your ex and vice versa. Therefore, it's important to figure things out together.
Consistency is extremely important when you are raising children with your ex. Try to agree to rules that will be enforced in both households. For example, if children are only allowed to play video games for 30 minutes per day when staying with one parent, the same should be true when staying with the other parent when you both agree to the rule.
Keep your Emotions Check
The best way to co-parent during and after a divorce is to try to keep negative emotions out of all your communication with your ex. There will likely be times when you want to scream and shout, but that will only hurt your chances of successfully co-parenting. Yes, you can and should stand up for yourself, but do it when you are cool, calm and collected.
Remember that you have every right to let your ex know that you will get back to him or her about a topic. No matter how unpleasant the subject matter is, you don't owe any immediate answers to anyone. Take the time you need to answer in the way that you're sure you won't regret. Your kids will be better off when you keep your emotions in check.
Be a great example of the Golden Rule
Treat your ex the way you want to be treated. Accentuate your ex's good qualities when discussing him or her with your children. Praise the good things that your ex does. That will help your children feel comfortable about expressing affection for the other parent in front of you. Also, try to show compassion when your ex makes parenting mistakes and offer support when possible. You may find that extending the olive branch is beneficial to you, too.
Finally, keep in mind that co-parenting can be one of the trickiest parts of a divorce, but it can get easier when you are proactive in protecting the best interests of you and your kids. You may reach out to your divorce lawyer for help and advice on all the legal aspects of your divorce. The caring attorneys at Melder & Melder, P.C., can assist you with many aspects of family law.