After a divorce or a separation, good parenting often overlaps with being a good co-parent. Whether or not their romantic split was amiable, change requires parents to communicate and facilitate a healthy environment for their child(ren).
The sooner you develop effective co-parenting skills, the better – for you and your kids:
- When in doubt, put the interests of your child first. Should you attend the birthday party your ex is having for your child? Follow the vegetarian diet your child is used to? Give permission for religious instruction, even if it is not your faith? Resolving issues like this may not be simple, but your first priority should be the well-being of your child.
- Avoid dysfunctional behavior patterns. Probably no one knows how to push your buttons better than your ex- and vice-versa. Identify nonproductive patterns and develop alternate ways to respond. Taking a deep breath and counting to 10 can make your day go a lot smoother.
- Make reasonable schedules and stick to them. Keeping track of after-school activities, play-dates, vacations, and dentist appointments can complicate parenting time arrangements. Diligently update and coordinate your calendars – and have contingency plans in place. Utilize the electronic age to help streamline the process. Many apps, internet based calendars, texting, etc. can help reduce conflict.
- Respect your ex. Although you have severed ties, your ex still likely has a central role in the life of your child. Ridiculing the other parent or pressuring a child to take sides will only cause distress.
- Get help if necessary. Family mediation or therapy can offer communication and conflict-resolution skills that will go a long way to making co-parenting less stressful.
It may be difficult at first, but learning to maintain a partnership when it comes to co-parenting with your ex-spouse or partner is often the key to a harmonious upbringing for children -of two-household families.