It is not at all easy to co-parent your kid after a divorce or separation. However, co-parenting is crucial to fulfil all your child’s requirements and provide them with the chance to maintain a strong bond with both parents. The quality of the co-parents’ relationship can affect the mental and emotional health of children to a great extent. In case you have a hostile relationship with your ex-partner, the process of co-parenting might become stressful. It can give way to concern about their parenting abilities and how you are going to overcome the contentious relationship. Establishing interactions, sharing decisions, or just speaking to the individual you would rather forget may appear impossible. You need to remain calm and consistent and work out all conflicts so that your children can thrive.
The key to being successful co-parents lies in separating the personal relationship with your ex-partner from the one that you are to engage in for co-parenting. One helpful solution is to start approaching the relationship with your ex as an entirely new one with complete regard to your children’s well-being and not that of either of yours. Though your marriage is over, you must keep in mind that your family, especially your kids, is your significant priority. The foremost thing that a mature and responsible co-parent should do is put the child’s needs ahead of their own at all times. You should make them understand that the conflict leading to the collapse of your marriage is not as significant as the kids. No matter whatever the circumstance is, your love for them will continue prevailing.
Keep aside your Anger and Hurt
As successful co-parents, you should not let your emotions such as hurt, anger, resentment gain priority over your children’s needs and best interests. Undoubtedly it is the most difficult component of building up a cooperative working relationship with your ex-spouse but it is also the most vital part. All that matters is your kid’s stability, happiness, and future well-being. It is not absurd to be angry and hurt but you should never let your feelings affect your behaviour. Contrariwise, motivate the actions so that you can work cooperatively with the other parent. Your child should never become an outlet for letting off steam. Be focused on your kid while remembering the essence of acting with grace and purpose. To control your overwhelming anger, you may look at your child’s photograph(s).
At no point, you should put your children in the middle of both your troubled relationship. It may happen that you can never completely let go of the bitterness related to your separation. In such a situation, compartmentalizing the resentment and reminding yourself that they are not your child’s issues will help you out. If you use your children as messengers, it will necessarily place them in the middle of your conflict. Since the goal is to try and avoid making your kid face your relationship issues, call or send a mail/ message to your ex-partner directly. Moreover, you should keep your issues to yourself only and never say any negative thing about your ex-spouse to your child. Do not make them feel like they have to choose between the two of you. Let your kid enjoy a relationship with the parent without your influence.
Improve the way you communicate with the other parent
The success of co-parenting is consistent, peaceful, and purposeful communication with your ex. Perhaps it is not possible but it is essential. What you need to do is make your child the focus of every conversation with your ex-partner. Since you do not have to meet them face to face mandatorily, you can speak over the phone or exchange emails or texts majorly. Depending on the goal to establish a communication free from conflicts, you can choose the best way of contacting. To initiate and develop effective communication, you have to maintain a business-like tone with your ex. It is as if you are writing to a colleague with respect, cordiality, and neutrality. Rather than making statements that one can misinterpret as demands, you can try and frame it as a request.
Mature communication begins with listening. Though you might disagree, you should allow your ex to voice their opinion as well. Asking to know your ex-spouse’s opinions might kick-start positive communication between both of you. An apology can act as a powerful step to move your relationship forward. Therefore, you should sincerely apologize when you are sorry about something. Moreover, you should show restraint while frequently communicating with your ex. It will imply to your children that both of you are united. All your conversations should focus on your kids only and never digress into something involving you or them. When tension builds during handling a difficult ex-partner, you can stay in control if you practise quick techniques for relieving stress.
Work as a team while being co-parents
It does not matter whether you like the other person but co-parenting is a process where you have to make endless decisions with your ex. So, co-operation and communication without blowing up and bickering will make it easy for both of you to make decisions. The process of rearing your child will gradually fall into place if you opt for geniality and consistency while engaging in teamwork with your co-parent. To avoid confusion for the kids, you must aim for co-parenting consistency. While rules can vary between both of your households, you and your ex can set the same lifestyle rules such as curfews, homework issues, and off-limit actions. Hence, your children will not have to switch constantly between two extremely different disciplinary atmospheres.
It may so happen that your child engages in an infraction when they are at your ex-spouse’s place. What you need to do is adhere to the same consequences if they break rules. You can apply this kind of discipline to reward their good behaviour as well. Your kid’s schedule should have some amount of consistency. Doing homework, having meals, and going off to bed at similar times will help your children adjust to staying in two homes. As co-parents, you and your ex should take major decisions together. It is crucial to be open, honest, and straightforward about significant matters about your kids’ well-being. Be it attending medical appointments together or designating one parent to connect with health care experts, you should keep the other individual informed.
Make visits and transitions easier
Whether it takes place once in a while or frequently, moving from one household to another becomes extremely hard for children. A reunion with one parent causes separation with the other. While such transitions are inevitable, you can do a lot of things to make them easy. Try and stay positive while delivering your kids to your ex’s house on time. Moreover, you can help your kids to anticipate the change and pack their bags well in advance so that they do not forget the important stuff. It will be great if you drop off your kid rather than pick them up to avoid the risks of interfering in their special moments. You must keep things low-key at the beginning of your kid’s return to your place. Spending some time together reading a book or any other quiet activity will be nice.
Keeping basic items such as toothbrushes, hairbrushes, or nightsuits at both homes can make packing much more simple. You should allow some space for your child to adjust to such transitions. Establishing a special routine when they return to you can make the transitions smooth. At times, kids may refuse to leave the other parent to stay with you. To resolve the problem easily, you can pay more attention to them, have more ways of entertaining them or make certain changes in how you discipline them. In the case of a misunderstanding, talk to your kid to know the reason behind their refusal. Since most of these visitation refusals tend to be temporary ones, you need to go with the flow. It may be emotional and challenging for you to talk to your ex regarding this subject. However, it can help you figure out the problem.
Kids with divorced parents have a cooperative relationship, feel secure and have proper self-esteem because they are confident about the love of both parents. They can also adjust better to divorce or separation between the parents and new living conditions and will also benefit from consistency due to the similar rules of the two households. Kids who notice parents working together will learn to solve problems with much more ease and effectiveness. When you cooperate with the other parent, your children will have an extremely healthy example to follow. It will enable them to develop and maintain strong bonds in the future. Another perk is that co-parenting will make your children emotionally and mentally healthier than those kids whose parents continually indulge in conflict thereby making their children the victim of stress and anxiety-related issues.
This article has been written by Madhurima Bhadra and the opinions expressed herein are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of 9HappyMonths. You can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org