8 ways to make co-parenting work after divorce
There is no such thing as a typical divorce, any more than there's any such thing as a typical couple or a typical child, so there is no magical formula for making co-parenting work. There are, however, some general truths to which divorcing parents should adhere to give themselves and their children the best chance of getting through the split unscathed:
- Be present for your children. This is the golden rule. Be there physically and be there emotionally. Build a routine around them and devote yourself to being actively engaged with them in the time that you're together.
- Be honest with your children. Show them that you understand that they're being affected by the divorce, they also need reassuring that they're still loved and won't be abandoned, either physically or emotionally. Encourage them to talk about how they feel. If you can do this together as a family, all the better.
- Be wary of over-sharing. Although you want to respect your kids enough to talk to them about the divorce, don't get them too involved in the nitty gritty of why you're breaking up. There's a balance to be struck here.
- Be supportive of your co-parent. Co-parenting works best when both parents are completely supportive of one another. This means sticking to your co-parenting schedule but remaining flexible when changes arise. It also means being nice to and about one another. If you can really mean it too, all the better.
- Be open with your co-parent. If at all possible, keep lines of communication between you and the other parent open as much as you can. If you're not able to discuss things as and when they arise, you'll need to schedule regular co-parenting meetings. If you can't meet without conflict erupting, you could draw up a co-parenting schedule in which all your arrangements are clearly detailed.
- Be aware of your child’s support network. Make sure they're able to maintain existing relationships, as well as any existing routines, that they have with friends and family members. They need as much stability as they can get at this time.
- Be open to external support. Any sources of co-parenting support are essential in helping parents cope with and work through the difficult emotions and manifold challenges that arise as a result of divorce. As well as informal support networks provided by family and friends, consider more formal support sources such as family mediation that centres on creating successful co-parenting paths.
- Be good to yourself. Be sure to look after yourself. Take the time to make sure you're staying healthy, both physically and emotionally. This is good for you but also essential for your kids who need to know that they can still rely on you. It'll also help them appreciate that maybe the divorce was the right thing to do and it's not the end of the world.
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