Co-parenting with an ex after divorce can be hard but you can make it work for the sake of your children.
Co-parenting or Joint Custody Arrangements may be one of the hardest parts of a divorce. It can be an exhausting, infuriating and stressful experience. For it to work, you will be forced to get past the excruciating history between you and your ex and overcome hard feelings against each other.
Interacting, making decisions, or just plain talking to your ex can be a daunting task. Despite these challenges, you can still develop an amicable working relationship with your former partner for your children’s interest.
In this article:
What is Co-Parenting?
Benefits of Co-parenting
3 Best Tips for Better Co-parenting after Divorce
What is Co-Parenting?
When separation or divorce occurs between you and a spouse, you will have to raise your children as a single parent. Co-parenting, which is sometimes called joint parenting or shared parenting, means that there are reciprocal interactions of each parent despite a divorce.
Both parents should play an active role in your children’s everyday life to ensure that all of their needs are met and to keep their relationship between both parents strong. Developing an amicable working relationship with your ex will help provide your kids with the essential stability, security, and emotional support that they need.
If you can get through the challenges of co-parenting with an ex and are able to develop a cordial working relationship with them, it will greatly benefit your children’s well-being.
Benefits of Co-parenting
Despite the circumstances, your love for your children should prevail. It is important that you make your kids feel that they are more important than the problems in your marriage. You will see that cooperating with your ex will give your kids the following benefits:
- Your children will feel more secure and have better self-esteem. It will also be easier for them to adjust to their new living situation.
- You are your children’s role model. They can learn how to solve their problems peacefully from you when you continue to work with an ex-spouse.
- When children are exposed to their parents’ marriage conflict, they are most likely prone to depression, anxiety, or ADHD. Co-parenting can make them mentally and emotionally healthier.
- They will be able to maintain stronger relationships when you set a healthy example for them to follow in the future.
Here are some general principles for successful co-parenting that can be applied to most divorcing families:
Focus On The Kids And Separate Your Feelings
Your feelings of hurt and anger are normal and valid. However, you should not let it influence the way you behave. Always keep in mind that cooperating with your ex is the best for your kids. Let it be your motivation to overcome your feelings.
If you want to get your negative feelings out, vent to a friend or a therapist but never vent to your kids. Exercise is also a healthy coping mechanism when dealing with anger. Never put your children in the middle by saying negative things about your ex or asking them to choose between the two of you.
Remind yourself that those are your issues and not your child’s. Keep your child out of your relationship issues by directly communicating with your ex instead of using your kids as a messenger.
If you are feeling angry and resentful, compartmentalize those feelings and act with purpose and grace knowing that you are doing this for your child’s best interest.
Have An Open Dialogue With Your Ex
You probably just want to forget about your ex and completely remove them from your life but here’s the deal: your kids still need them. If you want to make co-parenting a success, peaceful, purposeful, and consistent communication with your ex is a must.
If meeting with them in person is too hard for you to bear, there are alternative ways such as texting, emails, or even scheduling appointments through apps. Choose the most conflict-free form of communication that both of you are most comfortable with.
“Remember why you are communicating and what your ultimate objective is; raising happy, healthy children. And it doesn’t matter what age your children are. Even adult children are deeply affected when their parents are not patient, kind and respectful of each other.” says Laura Campbell, Founder of The D Spot.
When discussing things with them, the focal point of the conversation should only be about your children. Approach your ex-partner like a business partner and speak to them similar to how you would speak to a colleague—with cordiality, respect, and neutrality.
Tame your emotions by relaxing and talking slowly. Learn to listen to your ex as well. Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Remember to constantly update each other as well.
Work As A Team
Whether you like it or not, you and your ex will have to make decisions together regarding your kids. When you communicate and cooperate with each other well, decision-making will be far easier for everybody.
Aim for consistency by applying the same rules that you have in your home and when your child is visiting your ex’s house. This will avoid confusion on your children’s part and will help them set basic expectations.
Some important rules that should be followed by both households can include curfews, homework issues, and off-limit activities. Disciplining your children should be consistent as well. When they lost TV privileges under your roof, the restriction should follow through when they are at your ex’s. The same should be done when rewarding good behavior.
Both you and your ex’s household should also follow the same schedule for your children’s mealtime, homework, and bedtime. When making major decisions involving education, financial issues, and medical needs, make sure that you keep an open, honest and straightforward discussion.
Disagreements over certain issues are bound to happen when you co-parent with an ex. However, you should learn how to treat them with respect. Simple manners can go a long way for co-parenting.
Showing your ex-partner respect can include updating them about school events, taking their opinions seriously and keeping your schedule flexible. With the following the tips above, you can make joint custody work by keeping a calm, consistent, and positive outlook so your kids can thrive.