Co-parenting tips for separated parents
Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
When parents separate, co-parenting is extremely important, particularly for your child. However, it is understandable that it is easier said than done, but it is key to remember it is not impossible. Putting aside your relationship issues for the sake of your child can create positive outcomes not only for the child but for yourself.
There may be a lot of anger and upset in your past between yourself and your ex partner, and it may be difficult to move on. Although this may be true, it is important to put your child first as their needs must be met, this includes having a healthy relationship with both parents. It may help if you think of your relationship with your ex partner as a new one. Instead of the relationship being about you, make the new relationship about your child. This may be the best option to overcome any anger or resentment.
Moreover, if your child understand they are more important than the conflict, they are more likely to:
- Feel secure. When confident of the love of both parents, kids adjust more quickly and easily to divorce and have better self-esteem.
- Benefit from consistency. Co-parenting fosters similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households, so children know what to expect, and what?s expected of them.
- Better understand problem solving. Children who see their parents continuing to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves.
- Have a healthy example to follow. By cooperating with the other parent, you are establishing a life pattern your children can carry into the future.
It is completely normal to still be either angry or upset about your separation however, it is crucial that you separate your feelings from your behaviour. This can be done by:
- Getting your feelings out somewhere else. Never vent to your child. Friends, therapists, or even a loving pet can all make good listeners when you need to get negative feelings off your chest. Exercise can also be a healthy outlet for letting off steam.
- Staying kid-focused. If you feel angry or resentful, try to remember why you need to act with purpose and grace: your child?s best interests are at stake. If your anger feels overwhelming, looking at a photograph of your child may help you calm down.
- Using your body. Consciously putting your shoulders down, breathing evenly and deeply, and standing erect can keep you distracted from your anger, and can have a relaxing effect.
It is always key to remember that the issues within your relationship are not your child’s. Therefore, it is better to keep your issues away from your child as this may place the child in the middle.
- Never use kids as messengers. When you have your child tell the other parent something for you, it puts him or her in the center of your conflict. The goal is to keep your child out of your relationship issues, so call or email your ex yourself.
- Keep your issues to yourself. Never say negative things about your ex to your children, or make them feel like they have to choose. Your child has a right to a relationship with his or her other parent that is free of your influence.
Putting in place rules, discpline and schedules in both houses avoids confusion for your child. You should be aiming for consistency as your child still needs routine and structure.
- Rules. Rules don?t have to be exactly the same between two households, but if you and your ex-spouse establish generally consistent guidelines, your kids won?t have to bounce back and forth between two radically different disciplinary environments. Important lifestyle rules like homework issues, curfews, and off-limit activities should be followed in both households.
- Discipline. Try to follow similar systems of consequences for broken rules, even if the infraction didn?t happen under your roof. So, if your kids have lost TV privileges while at your ex?s house, follow through with the restriction. The same can be done for rewarding good behavior.
- Schedule. Where you can, aim for some consistency in your children?s schedules. Making meals, homework, and bedtimes similar can go a long way toward your child?s adjustment to having two homes.
There are important issues that need to be discussed between yourself and your ex on behalf of your child’s welfare. This includes:
- Medical needs. Effective co-parenting can help parents focus on the best medical care for the child, and can help reduce anxiety for everyone. Whether you decide to designate one parent to communicate primarily with health care professionals or attend medical appointments together, keep one another in the loop.
- Education. School plays a major role in maintaining a stable environment for your kids, so be sure to let them know about changes in your child?s living situation. Speak with your ex ahead of time about class schedules, extra-curricular activities, and parent-teacher conferences, and be polite to him or her at school or sports events.
- Financial issues. The cost of maintaining two separate households can strain your attempts to be effective co-parents. Set a realistic budget and keep accurate records for shared expenses. Be gracious if your ex provides opportunities for your children that you cannot provide.
KNBP understand how hard it is to communicate effectively with your ex partner, but by putting your child first, you are building a better and safer future for him/her. There can be better long-term outcomes from co-parenting, which is what is best for your child.