Divorce is a messy, tense experience and the situation can be even harder when you have kids. Children tie you and your ex together forever so you must learn to co-parent effectively even after the two of you have parted ways romantically. Your children still love both parents and will enjoy spending time with each of them, so it is important for you to put their happiness first and create a custody plan that everyone is happy with. Here are four tips to help you develop a healthy, functional co-parenting relationship with your ex.
Your ex is probably not your favorite person and it can be tempting to talk negatively about him or her to your kids. This is detrimental to your kids because your ex is still the other parent. Letting emotions take over while you are communicating with your ex quickly causes problems to escalate, so you must learn to be cordial to each other. This may feel impossible, especially at first, and you may feel the need to use mediators and lawyers to smooth over conflicts. A law firm such as Cordell & Cordell can help you navigate the custody process and find an arrangement that suits everyone. The Cordell & Cordell team can ensure both parents get a fair amount of time with the kids.
You have to learn to communicate with your ex in a way that is beneficial for both of you. There will always be information about the kids that needs to be shared, from medical issues to problems at school. To make communication easier, you should decide on a method that works for both of you. Some people prefer to limit non-emergency communication to the pickup and drop-off meetings and want to talk about the information in person. Others want to communicate via text or email so they can keep a record of what was said and limit personal interaction. Regardless of which communication method you choose to use, the important thing to remember is to ensure your interactions always center around your kids.
Make Important Decisions Together
Kids benefit from consistency and routine, so they need to understand that the same basic rules apply at both parents’ houses. If one parent is more lenient than the other, children will likely turn to that parent for large requests. However, granting a large request without consulting the other parent will cause friction in the relationship. You should always discuss major decisions such as whether to buy your teenager a car or whether your young child is ready for summer camp with the other parent. This show of respect will make your co-parenting relationship smoother. However, it is important to remember that not every decision has to be made together.
While you should stick to your custody arrangement as often as possible, it is important to remain flexible and show the same respect to your ex that you expect in return. If your ex wants to attend a special event that only occurs while the kids are in your custody, you may want to consider trading nights or coming up with an alternate arrangement. Being flexible keeps the communication lines upon and reduces the risk of one parent becoming resentful.
Co-parenting can be difficult but learning to do so effectively is in the best interest of your kids. Use the four tips to make the process easier but above all, remember to put your kids first. Their needs and emotions should always be prioritized by both parents. When you help kids adjust to this new lifestyle and make them feel loved by both parents, they will thrive.