Divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences of a child’s life. The more their parents fight and involve them in the process, the more traumatic divorce can become. In other words, it is important for you and your ex to try to shield your children from your own emotional responses to the divorce, your anger with each other and the drama of court proceedings.
Trying to work with one another as co-parents can be a way to reduce the stress that divorce causes for your children and help your whole family move on after the devastation of a divorce. That can mean accepting that shared custody or co-parenting is part of your future after divorce.
Attitude means a lot when co-parenting after a divorce
There are certain basic rules to successful co-parenting that include not undermining your ex’s authority, not denying them reasonable parenting time requests and not directly belittling them to your children. Those are all great starting points, but it’s important to understand that your children can read your body language and behavior.
They know if you’re angry or bitter, even if you don’t say it out loud. While you may not talk negatively about their other parent in front of them, they may overhear you complaining to someone else on the phone or notice the change in your mood and behavior when you have to interact with your ex. It’s important to remember that even though your ex may not have been the ideal spouse, they can still be a great parent.
Trying to stay positive and look at the bright side of shared custody, including that you get a little time to yourself every week, can convey to your children that their parents are still friends and are still willing to work with one another.
Try to support your ex instead of undermining their parenting
Agreeing on certain terms, such as curfew for the kids and how much screen time is appropriate will make it easier for you to back each other up when your children try to test boundaries.
Don’t break the rules that you set in your parenting plan and tell your children that they get special treatment at your place. Doing that doesn’t just undermine your ex’s parenting, it also makes it easier for your kids to manipulate the two of you in the future. Adhere to the same rules, support each other and try to be as flexible as possible if things suddenly change.
Including certain rules and expectations in your parenting plan can be a great way to set a positive foundation for your co-parenting relationship. The better you and your ex work together, the easier this new situation will be for your whole family.