Going through a divorce is not easy. You have to take care of a number of things at the same time, such as hiring a reliable lawyer, filling out the necessary paperwork, and figuring out how to divide your property.
However, none of these administrative tasks are as difficult or as important as helping your children cope with the divorce. And it does not end there. Once the divorce is over, you might have to take care of the children together with your ex-partner.
In this article, you will find a list of helpful co-parenting tips for divorced parents. They will range from things like setting boundaries, focusing on the needs of your children and working as a team to lowering your expectations and having a solid support system.
1 – Set Boundaries
If your relationship with your ex-partner is tense, then it might be a good idea to set some boundaries around your co-parenting relationship. The best way to do this is to start by defining what you want to achieve.
What are your goals?
Do you want to make things easier for your children? Or is it a matter of trying to get along with your ex? If you know what you want, then you can start setting boundaries to focus on achieving your goals and not entering into useless though exhausting battles.
For example, you could ask your ex not to call after a certain hour of the day, and you could also ask them not to come over without warning. You could also tell them that you will only talk about certain things, such as the children’s needs and their school activities.
Of course, these things should be mutually agreed upon. You, too, will have to accept some boundaries your ex asks for. But when this happens, you will have better control over how your co-parenting relationship goes. You will also have a better chance of avoiding conflicts, and that is always a good thing.
2 – Work as a Team
You might not like your ex. They may have done some things that are difficult for you to forgive or that you don’t want to forgive. But your feelings toward your ex won’t change the fact that you must work together in order to give your children what they need and what they deserve.
Try to view your ex from your children’s point of view: what benefit do they get from them? What important role can your ex play in their lives? This should help you in the task of defining the boundaries and defining the roles.
If you can agree on common goals and on each person’s value in contributing toward reaching those goals, then personal feelings about each other should not prevent either of you from working towards those goals.
Of course it is easier said than done. But as time goes on and you are able to see the progress towards meeting your goals, it does get easier.
3 – Separate the Partner From the Parent
People go through a divorce because they no longer feel that they can make things work as a couple. They feel that their partner is no longer able to support them in some way or another. When it comes to co-parenting, it is easy to transfer the feelings of betrayal and disappointment and confound ‘poor spouse’ with ‘poor parent’, which may not be accurate.
It is quite possible to be a poor partner yet a good parent. When you get a divorce, most likely you are resigned to the fact that your partner is not a good partner – at least not for you. That doesn’t mean they have to be a poor parent. But you need to be prepared for them to make mistakes – all parents make mistakes – and not seize upon that opportunity for you to confirm to them and yourself that they were a poor partner. The two roles are different.
Try not to expect too much from your ex-partner. They might not be ready to change everything overnight. It is in everyone’s best interest if you can accept their shortcomings and give them space and time to be or demonstrate their effectiveness as a parent.
4 – Have a Solid Support System
Nowadays, there are plenty of resources online that can help you cope with divorce and with your co-parenting situation such as the Survive Divorce website. There are online forums where divorced parents can share their experiences and even seek professional advice regarding their situation. You could also seek out the help of a therapist who specializes in co-parenting and family relations in general.
However, it does not end there. It is important for divorced parents to have a solid support system around them at all times. Some people recommend having an extra person there who can stay with their children or help out in case there are any problems during co-parenting sessions. It could be a trusted relative or a family friend. Having someone else there to help keep things in balance can be very useful in certain situations.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is help out there, but sometimes it requires putting aside one’s pride and making oneself vulnerable in order to ask for it. The chances are that you’ll be glad that you did.
5 – Have a Sense of Humor
Going through a divorce can be difficult for everyone involved, but it is especially hard for children since they are young and impressionable. If they see that their parents are fighting all the time or if they see one parent taking advantage of the other, they will begin to internalize those feelings and use them when interacting with other people in their lives. This is why it is so important for divorced parents to co-parent well and show their children how to act properly in social situations.
However, creating this positive environment does not happen overnight; it takes time and effort on both sides of the table. If both parties can laugh together, then they will have an easier time accepting one another’s shortcomings and trying to work as a team instead of against each other. They will also be teaching the children valuable lessons and setting a good example of how to behave in difficult social interactions.
It’s not going to be easy, but if you’re able to resign yourself to the fact that your ex may not have been a good partner but can still be a good parent; if you can set clearly defined roles and boundaries; if you’re able to have a sense of humor – especially around your children, then you are stacking the odds in your favor of getting through this tough phase with success. Make sure you surround yourself with good, positive, helpful people, and be willing to reach out and get the assistance you need.