Tips on How to Effectively Co-Parent
On October 31, 2018 by Eric Klein
For ex-spouses who share children, they cannot simply cease all interactions with one another. They must learn to work together and effectively co-parent their children. If there are a lot of unresolved issues, this can seem like a tall order, but it is imperative that both parties remember that the focus should always remain on the well-being of the children rather than on any past grievances. If you are newly divorced and in the process of learning how to co-parent with your former spouse, you might be looking for tips on how to make this situation easier for everyone involved.
Below is a list of some tips that will help you and your ex-spouse get on the right track toward raising your children in a cooperative environment:
- Practice empathy: Co-parenting with your ex will likely not be easy at first, so it is important to try to imagine what things are like from the perspective of your children or their other parent. Trying to understand what they are going through and empathizing with them will help you better navigate this situation. If your kids miss their other parent, let them talk about it. You should also remember that your ex-spouse will miss his or her children, so treat your ex-spouse the way you would like to be treated and your relationship as co-parents will likely improve.
- Be open and flexible: When parents argue in front of their children about issues like visitation, kids tend to suffer. If their other parent wants to take them to a game or a show and you know they will enjoy it and have a good time, try to be flexible even if you have a court-ordered parenting calendar. These acts of goodwill will not go unnoticed by your children and your ex-spouse will likely return the favor if a day ever arises when you want to treat the kids to something special.
- Choose your battles: Of course, having some universal ground rules across both households is important to maintain stability for your children, but you will both still have your own parenting styles and respond to situations in a different manner. You are both individuals and expecting you both to handle everything identically is unrealistic. Keep this in mind and only address the issues that truly deserve your attention.
- Communicate directly with your co-parent: You might have heard this piece of advice already, but it is such a key element in effective co-parenting that it should always be mentioned. Never use your children as messengers to communicate with your ex-spouse. This is important advice for a number of reasons. First, your children will witness the negative feelings both you and your ex-spouse feel towards one another when delivering or receiving the messages you have them pass along and, to top it off, your children might also get the message wrong, creating more havoc. Communicate with your co-parent directly to avoid exposing your children to any nasty outbursts and to avoid burdening them with issues that should never be their responsibility.
- Keep your exchanges short: Regardless of the location you choose to exchange your children, remember to keep your drop-offs and pick-ups short and sweet. It can be hard to say goodbye to them, but try your best not to cry when they go off with their other parent. Keep your goodbyes simple and smile, so your children will not feel guilty for leaving you alone.
- Share photos and accomplishments: It goes without saying that both you and your co-parent are going to inevitably miss some special moments. To ensure that you are both still part of these milestones, take pictures and share them with each other. If your children bring back an excellent report card, snap a shot of it with your phone and text it. If you both get in the habit of doing this, neither of you will feel left out of these special moments.
- Enjoy your time off: There is a silver lining to being a co-parent and that is the time off you get to recharge, socialize, catch up on some reading, or sleep in. Take advantage of this “me time” and do something that makes you happy instead of fixating on the fact that your ex-spouse has the children. When your children return, they will see you at your best.
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