Co-parenting after divorce presents unexpected challenges. Everything changes, and parents do have the same control over their children as they once did. Short of serious abuse, you no longer can control the advice, boundaries, diet, activities, religious ideas, or friends that your former spouse exposes your children to. On the flip side, you get to raise your children how you want when they’re with you, and they can get to know you separately from your ex. This is especially welcome if the other parent is or has been emotionally abusive to you or your children.
The following are recommendations for co-parenting after divorce that were designed with the best interest of your child in mind:
- Tell your children the truth, with simple explanations. Tell them where the other parent is.
- Refrain from bringing up grievances or speaking derogatorily about the other parent to or in front of your children.
- Don’t discuss financial, legal, or other disputes with your children.
- Refrain from saying anything, which might discourage your children from spending time with the other parent, and from pressuring them to take sides.
- Reassure them that they will be taken care of, and be safe and secure; even though marital love may end, parent love endures.
- Spend as much time as possible with each child individually.
- Keep agreements you make with the other parent, and be reliable and prompt, enabling the children to feel they can depend on and trust both parents.
- Avoid scheduling activities for the children, which may conflict with the visitation schedule, and if unable to keep the scheduled arrangements, notify the other parent as soon as possible.
- Don’t use your children to get back at or send messages to your ex-spouse. Children in the crossfire get terribly wounded.
- Children may feel responsible for the divorce or may try to bring parents back together. Let them know they are not to blame and that your decision is final.
- Divorcing parents may feel guilty and overindulgent. Set limits with your children.
- Continue to be the parent and seek other adults to fill your relationship needs. Don’t allow your child to become “man of the house” or “little mother”.
- Arrange for both parents to be notified and be authorized to act in an emergency. Keep the other parent, school and daycare advised of your current residence address and telephone numbers.
- Avoid arguments, fights, and threats in the presence of your children, as they frighten and damage them.
- You will continue to be parents throughout your life, so not only honor your agreement, live up to the underlying spirit of cooperation, making an effort to set aside your personal feelings towards the other parent and maintain an attitude of tolerance and flexibility.
- Be patient with yourself and your children. Know that at this difficult time you are entitled to reach out for help and support.
To get tips for overcoming the pain of rejection, see “Recovery from Rejection and Breakups.” Listen to the seminar, Breakup Recovery.
See also “The Stages of Divorce,” “The Do’s and Don’ts of Divorce,” and “After Divorce – Moving On and Letting Go.” Listen to my interview and get tips for Bouncing Back from Divorce.
Copyright, Darlene Lancer, 2021