A separation or divorce may feel like the earth is crumbling under you, and if you have children, the thought of having to uproot their lives can be even more painful to imagine.
But here’s the thing, unless you’re getting out of a violent or dangerous partnership, the basics of your parenting habits can remain the same, even if you’re not living in the same home.
Deciding to co-parent is the best thing that you can do to ensure that your children will not only have a smooth transition into their new normal, but you and your ex will be on the same page as to what you think is best for your children.
It may seem impossible to remain in constant contact with your ex, especially if you had a particularly unpleasant break-up.
Still, if you focus on visualizing your former partner as your teammate, you and your children are sure to thrive in these tumultuous times.
Here are some tips to remain level-headed and consistent on your co-parenting journey:
The Benefits of Co-Parenting
When it comes to co-parenting efficiently, you must recognize that your children are more critical than the irreconcilable differences that caused you and your ex to end your relationship. The love you both share for your kids is what will prevail in the end.
Divorced or separated parents who decide to have an amicable co-parenting relationship will help your children:
- Have better mental health from not being exposed to stressful conflicts
- Have a healthy example for them to carry with them into adulthood
- Have a more consistent life where both parents agree on rules, rewards, and discipline
- Have a sense of security and higher self-esteem from seeing that their parents love them and are peacefully adjusting to their new living situations
Leave Your Anger Out Of It
In order for co-parenting to work, your feelings of resentment and hurt need to be placed on the back-burner to allow for your focus to be on the needs of your children.
Setting aside these feelings of anger is arguably one of the most complex parts of making a healthy co-parenting relationship work.
It’s absolutely okay to process those feelings, but remember that your little ones’ best interests are what matters most.
If you need an outlet for your emotions, turn to your support system of friends, family members, or even a therapist to vent your frustrations. Learn more about what it takes to be a productive parent at Parenting Page.
Don’t Involve Your Children In Your Conflicts
Your issues with your ex are not your child’s responsibility. If there’s unresolved business between your former partner and you, make sure to work through that on your own time, away from your kids.
Refrain from using your children as messengers to deliver information to your co-parent or using them to spy on your ex’s new significant other, for example.
Additionally, avoid bad-mouthing your ex around your kids or putting them in a situation where they need to choose a side.
Your children have the right to a healthy, loving relationship with their other parents free from your input.
Even If You’re Apart, Keep Your Parenting Consistent
Things can get tricky if you and your ex follow different guidelines for parenting your children. Not only is it confusing for your children, but it can also make you and your former partner vulnerable to blowouts or disagreements.
Aim for remaining consistent when it comes to child-rearing, so your kids know what to expect even if they’re transitioning from one home to the next.
Get on the same page about general rules, such as curfews and homework, and the consequences of should your children not follow those rules.
Keeping their schedule consistent can go far, such as meal times and when it’s time for homework.
Make Major Decisions Together
Before any significant life events occur, you and your ex need to be transparent with each other on the plan of action should anything happen to you or your children.
- Have straightforward conversations about your children’s medical needs, such as which parent will communicate with their doctors or go with them to appointments.
- Take turns going to parent-teacher conferences, and discuss other education-related matters such as class schedules or extra-curricular activities.
- Set a budget and keep a detailed record of any shared expenses you have with your ex.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.