You’re Still a Parent.
Parenting is no easy task. After a heartbreaking divorce, it suddenly becomes much more difficult. But you can’t bury your head in the sand and hope for the best. You’ve got to keep at your task of raising your children. And unless your former spouse has left the picture and won’t be seen again, you have to continue parenting your children together – an art form known as co-parenting.
Before freaking out about having to parent alongside your ex, take a deep breath and keep reading for a crash-course on why and how to partner as a parent with someone you no longer live with.
Why Do It: As if parenting weren’t hard enough, co-parenting is going to be even tougher. Therefore, if you’re going to co-parent successfully, you have to be convinced it’s the right thing to do. Wondering why co-parenting is worth trying out? The primary purpose of co-parenting is to make your divorce less painful for your children. Sure, you may wish you never had to see your ex-spouse ever again, but doing this only complicates matters for your children.
They need to know you will always love them – even if you don’t love their other parent – and the best way to do that is to continue being your children’s mother or father and actively seeking ways to be involved in your kids’ lives.
Sold on co-parenting? Keep going to learn a little more about how to make it work.
Keep It Civil: Remember why you decided to divorce your ex-spouse? There’s no need to bring up past issues over and over – especially in front of the kids. Also, you shouldn’t bring up new issues in front of the kids either. Don’t like your ex’s new spouse? Keep your lips sealed. Your mean comments don’t make life any easier for your kids, your ex-spouse, or anyone else. Instead of acting immaturely, make it clear to your kids that you and their other parent work together to raise them. This means you can’t make a spur-of-the-moment to take the children out of town if it’s the other parent’s turn to have the kids. If you want your children to be kind, be a good example.
Do Not Compete: More than likely, you know someone who got spoiled as a child because divorced parents were trying to buy his or her love. While you may think money or fun can buy your kids’ affections, think again. You already have their love. Now they need to get it back in a meaningful way – through consistency, discipline, and affection. Also, when one of your kids says he or she misses the other parent, don’t get angry with the child. Let him or her call the other parent. Remember: your kids have always loved and needed you and your ex-spouse, and nothing will ever change that.
Be Prepared to Be Flexible: Life is full of compromises, and co-parenting requires a lot of bend if it’s going to go well. One of the first things you should do when co-parenting is create a schedule that allows all parties know when the kids will be with what parent. However, both parents should also accept the fact that things aren’t always going to go as planned. Traffic will keep the other parent from bringing the child to a preset destination on time, and school obligations may prevent a child from being unable to travel out of town with you when you were ready to take him or her to the beach. This is no reason to get bent out of shape. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to show your children what poise and maturity look like in the midst of trials.