Sometimes, while it can be painful to admit, you and your spouse simply cannot remain in a relationship. This is complicated enough when it’s just the two of you trying to untangle your lives, but when you have kids together it presents a whole new set of complications. Children are flexible, and they can adapt to the fact that their mom and dad are divorced, but it’s important for you and your former partner to realize that even if you don’t live together anymore, raising your children is still a responsibility you share. Co-parenting isn’t easy, but here are a few tips that can make it less overwhelming.
4 Tips For Effective Co-Parenting
Tip #1: Be Consistent
One of the most important things in the life of a child is consistency. Shades of gray and exceptions to the rule are okay as they get older, but when you’re trying to set patterns of behavior, and to provide structure and security, consistency is key. You need to talk with your ex, and set up boundaries for your kids. If they’re allowed to act one way with one of you, and another way with the other, that can send some seriously mixed messages. That’s the sort of thing you want to avoid whenever possible.
Tip #2: Treat Co-Parenting Like a Business Arrangement
You and your ex aren’t together anymore, and there’s a good reason for that. Maybe you’ve moved past the reasons for your divorce, but chances are there’s still some baggage there. You can avoid that by keeping things business-like, and focusing on the matter at hand. While it might be tempting to bring up past issues, or to treat things like an argument to be won, remember that your goal here is not to fight each other. Your goal is to make sure the two of you are providing what your kids need. If you can both keep that front and center, it will help immensely.
Tip #3: Never Turn Your Kids Into Messengers
It can be tempting to simply tell your kids that, when they go see your ex, they have to give them a note, or deliver a request from you. Don’t do that. Ever. It puts your kids between you and your ex, and that is precisely the sort of situation you want to avoid.
If you have something you need to tell your ex, tell them yourself. You don’t have to do it in person, especially since we have phones, text messaging, and email, but you need to be the bearer of your own news. It won’t always be pleasant, and it can be very stressful, but that’s why you’re the parent.
Tip #4: Ensure That Exchanges Are Calm, and Smooth
When your kids have to make the transition between you and your ex, make sure it doesn’t feel like a hostage exchange out of a cold war spy movie. Your kids will pick up on that tension, and it will make them dread these experiences. So work with your ex, and make sure the two of you work out any stresses and arguments before it’s time to hand off your kids. It will do wonders for them, and if you make a habit of it, you’ll find it’s a lot easier to set your differences aside when it comes time to make decisions regarding what’s best for your kids.
It isn’t always easy dealing with your ex, and it’s never easy raising kids. However, if you’re committed to making it work, then they’re probably going to turn out okay.
If you need more advice on how to deal with all aspects of your divorce, simply contact us today!