Co-parenting can be difficult in light of a separation or divorce. Sometimes the tension of the divorce pushes the kids aside or sticks them in the middle, rather than making them the center of each parent’s world. But the damage that can result to their psyche’s and self-esteem can carry though to lower grades, lower income, difficulty in relationships, riskier sex lives and a higher propensity to smoke, drink and abuse drugs. Surely each person must put their own emotions aside, as difficult as that may be and commit to co-parenting responsibly. Of course this is easier said than done and sometimes the wave of emotions can overtake logic, and what’s best for the children gets pushed to the wayside before we even recognize it. To prevent this from happening sit down with your ex and plan out exactly how co-parenting will work. The children of course are the most important thing. What parent would think any differently? If you approach your ex with these ideas, and both of you commit to making the children the number one priority for both of you, the kids will be well-adjusted and a lot happier. First, decide together that you two will both commit to a supportive and compassionate co-parenting model. Your ex doesn’t have to become your enemy, nor you theirs. If both of you commit to being great parents that’s what’s most important.
Remind yourself of what positive things your ex brought to the parenting dynamic. Even if someone is a lousy spouse or partner they can still be a good parent. Recognize the positive things that this person brings into the children’s life. This is an especially poignant reminder when you are ready to kill your ex. Don’t bad mouth your ex in front of the children, as much as you’d like to. Commit a pact with your ex that you won’t do it and neither should they. Make sure when you two make decisions it has the children’s best interest in mind. No one should be unloading the kids on the other because they have a date that weekend. Each person should attend the most important events in the children’s life such as graduations, sporting events, award ceremonies and so on. All decisions should be made first with the children’s needs in mind. If you have a new partner, make sure they don’t influence the co-parenting dynamic negatively. Your ex should commit to this as well. Don’t allow your new partner to give you grief and your ex’s new partner shouldn’t bring grief into the co-parenting relationship. This is between you and your ex. You two are the parents and no matter what you both have to make things work for the children’s sake. Believe it or not it pays to do a little favor for your ex now and then. You may be totally stressed out, drowning in responsibility or caught in a pinch and need them to bail you out. Even if they aren’t your favorite person, one hand washes the other. Be respectful. Drop the kids off on time and pick them up on time. But be flexible, too. Co-parenting seems awkward and difficult at first. But once you fall into a routine it becomes just part of your life. For further reading on this topic pick up a copy of Co-Parenting Works!: Helping Your Children Thrive after Divorce by Tammy G. Daughtry.