Parenting together after divorce is challenging but doable if planning is based on the needs of the children.
Establishing rules for parenting is key, setting guidelines for both parents and engaging in a constructive and productive dialogue with your ex are critical to forging an effective parenting relationship.
Tips for Successful Co-Parenting
Raising children is already hard work, so you can only imagine how much more difficult it becomes with joint custody. So make it easier for yourself by planning, reaching an agreement, and keeping communication open.
Parenthood together after a divorce can severely affect the mental and emotional wellbeing of children, which is why the entire divorce process should be healthy and smooth. Begin the shared parenting journey by raising the issue during the divorce process.
No more husband and wife.
Your relationship with your ex-spouse changes when you become parents with your ex.
The focus of your “relationship” is now on the connection you have as the other parent of your child. It is important to emphasize that your children are more important to you than the conflict that led to the end of your marriage.
Show your children that your love for them outweighs them through effective and compelling dialogues with your ex. While no co-parent can provide a specific answer to a perfect relationship with their ex-partner, here are tips on co-parenting that will make the process straightforward.
1. Set the boundaries for mutual parenting.
After you officially divorce your partner, you need to establish boundaries and ground rules for parenting together in order to build a new work dynamic for your family. This includes keeping things matter-of-fact and setting discussion boundaries. Your ex doesn’t need to know every detail of your personal life if it doesn’t affect your children and vice versa. Establishing these boundaries will help avoid future conflicts in common parenting and introduce new behavioral guidelines that both parents must follow.
2. Focus on healing yourself in preparation for parenting with your ex.
To become a good co-parent to your child, remember to take on your role in ending your marriage and reflect on your mistakes as you move on to the next chapter in your life.
3. Work with your ex-partner to create a family plan for your children.
Write a document detailing your family plan for your children. Develop the plan for their upbringing with your children’s interests in mind. Describe specific aspects of how much time the children will spend with their co-parent, what the children’s schedule will be after the divorce, and how conflicts with co-parents will be resolved.
4. Do not project your anger or resentment onto your children.
Getting back on your feet immediately after a divorce is almost impossible – especially if your ex-partner was abusive. However, once you get joint custody, remember to love your child more than you hate your ex-partner. Put aside anger, resentment or hurt for the good of your children and express their happiness, stability and future well-being.
5. Do not use your children against their parents.
Nothing good ever comes from badmouthing your ex. Even if your ex-spouse was the worst for you, never insult them in front of your children. Don’t let your frustrations with your co-parents drain on your children – you will conflict with them and leave the impression that they have to take sides. Keep your children away from your parenting conflicts.
6. Don’t use it as a messenger either.
Using your children to pass messages on to your ex-spouse is essentially avoiding dialogue with your ex and placing your children at the center of your parenting conflict.
One of the most important tips for parenting together is to keep your relationship with your ex-partner as peaceful as possible. Avoid sending passive-aggressive messages, especially not from your children.
7. Create a sense of security for your children.
In uncertain times like these, it is important that your children feel safe and secure. Do your best to put her first even if mediation is required in the divorce process.
Remember to allow your children to have power in your co-parenting relationship too – encourage them to bring some of their belongings to your ex-partner’s house and let them know it’s okay with them wanting to stay. Always reassure them that both co-parents love them equally and that they are not responsible for your breakup.
8. Focus on improving your communication with your ex-spouse.
The key to an effective shared parenting relationship is improving your communication with your ex-spouse. Having a calm, steady, and calculated dialogue with your ex will have a positive effect on your relationship with your children.
Don’t forget to put your children at the center of your conversations. While it may seem impossible to have a good relationship with your ex-spouse, your goal is to have conflict-free dialogues with your ex for the benefit of your children.
9. Make visits and transitions easy for your children.
Being a kid who moves from one household to another frequently is overwhelming. You say hello to one parent and goodbye to the other. Make these transitions easier for your children by reminding them that they will be going to the other parents’ house a few days before the visit. Another useful tip for parenting in these situations is to drop your children off instead of picking them up – you don’t want to interrupt a special moment.
10. Be a flexible parent to avoid conflict in parenthood.
While being a strict parent is necessary to establish behavioral guidelines and agreed rules for children, it doesn’t hurt to rest every now and then.
What if, as a co-parent, you dropped your children 30 minutes late? If you compromise and let minor things slip, your ex-partner is more likely to become equally flexible in the future.
11. Remember that fair doesn’t necessarily mean co-parenting.
Because your children split their time between co-parents, the time you spend with them is limited and precious. Sometimes it seems like your co-parent is organizing after-school activities if you want the kids to spend those time with you.
In these situations, learn not to start conflicting parenthood by looking at the bigger picture – what works for you may not be in your children’s best interests. Support your children at all times.
12. Respect your children’s time with their other parents.
At the same time, respect each other’s parental leave. Let your children spend time with the other parent without disturbing or potentially sabotaging their time. Acknowledge your ex-partner’s authority over your children, whether or not you agree with every decision they make.
Successful parenting after a divorce is possible when both parties respect the fact that each common parent has the best interests of the children in every decision they make.
13. Schedule regular parenting meetings.
Have your ex-partner check you in regularly to not only build an effective mutual parenting relationship, but also to improve your communication with your ex-spouse. Parent meetings should revolve around your children’s schedule after the divorce, as well as their health and wellbeing.
Keep the meetings short and to the point – treat each other with respect and listen to what you both have to say. Take notes and share them with your ex so there is no confusion about what has been discussed and what has been agreed.
14. Don’t expect your co-parent to strictly follow your rules.
While you may have a specific approach to bringing up your children, your co-parent may disagree with certain aspects of your methods. You may make them do things – not necessarily dangerous or unsafe – that you normally don’t allow.
Your co-parents may let your children stay after bed or allow them to have ice cream late at night. Stick to agreed rules for your children, but don’t expect them to strictly follow them at all times.
15. Share your children’s photos of important events with your co-parents.
No parent intentionally wants to miss their children’s birthday, graduation, or other important life event. However, if you or your co-parent misses a certain event, send pictures of the occasion to make them feel part of the family.
Do not trigger co-parenting conflicts or accuse them of deliberately not attending the event. Try to understand where they are from and why they cannot come for the occasion. After all, they are your children’s parents too and deserve to be a part of their lives.
16. Make important family decisions with your co-parent.
Do not make necessary decisions regarding your children unless your co-parents are abusing their power over your children without your ex-spouse contributing. Have a brief discussion on the topic before meeting with your co-parent for more information.
In these cases, avoid sending unilateral emails or messages to your co-partner. When translating text and emails, words can be lost and your effective co-parenting relationship can be compromised.
17. Establish a mutual parenting support system after the divorce
Parenting together after a divorce can be overwhelming. So don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family to help you navigate these difficult times. Joint custody with your ex-spouse can be crippling, but as long as you know you have a support network, moving forward is doable.
18. Create a new parenting plan as new partners are introduced to family dynamics.
You can’t stick to the same parenting plan forever. Children grow up, you introduce new methods of parenting, and eventually new people become part of your family. Review the joint parenting plan with your ex-spouse to change or add new behavioral guidelines and to discuss new boundaries for joint parenting.
Joint custody arrangements can be stressful when you don’t have an effective relationship with mutual parenting. Stress, exhaustion, and trauma could make the most of you. However, co-parenting plans can be created early in the divorce process.
Have fruitful and productive dialogues with your ex and create a family plan for the children in the presence of a divorce mediator.
Make joint custody work so your children can thrive, and incorporate as many parenting tips into your daily life as possible to make life after divorce effective and happy.