Divorce can be immensely stressful, emotionally difficult, and painful for everyone involved—especially for couples with young children–and co-parenting after divorce can be just as difficult. But it’s important for parents to take extra care to avoid letting their own grief cause harm to their kids. Here are some keys to successful co-parenting after your marriage has ended.
- Communication is key. Even if you are no longer friendly with your ex, you need to learn how to be at least civil, especially in front of your kids, and you need to communicate effectively about matters relating to your children. It’s important that you establish a no-nonsense, business-like approach to communicating with your ex-spouse. Do not discuss old wounds, raise personal issues, or bring up hot-button topics. This is not about you, it’s about your kids. Be direct, avoid conflict and argument, and make requests rather than demands. A modicum of civility will go a long way to make this arrangement work smoothly for everyone.
- Establish a routine. Routine is essential to children—in fact, they thrive on and crave it. It’s important that your children become comfortable and familiar with the arrangements you make. Be sure that they are aware of the custodial schedule, and be careful not to make arbitrary changes that could disrupt their routine.
- Be consistent with your rules. Even though you are no longer together, it’s important for parents to still put up a united front for their kids. The rules for their behavior should be similar in either household, and you should not let them flaunt rules that you used to jointly enforce. Even if it personally pains you to agree with anything your ex says, it’s important that you both have the same ground rules for your kids. If you constantly contradict each other, your children may decide that there are no rules at all.
- Keep your kids out of conflicts with your ex. Don’t complain or speak negatively to your kids about your ex. If you need someone to confide in, talk to a friend or relative or therapist about it, not your children. Do not ask them about your ex’s life or activities, or ask them to spy for you. Don’t use them to deliver messages to your ex—you need to do that yourself. They should feel free to love the other parent without feeling they are in conflict with you.
- Be flexible, cooperative and willing to compromise. Things may not always go your way in regard to scheduling, and you may be tempted to make a fuss about this. Don’t, unless your ex does something egregiously inappropriate, like transporting your children across state lines without telling you, or refusing to deliver the kids to you on your appointed visitation day, or anything else that is in conflict with your court-mandated custodial arrangement. Be reasonable, keep your children’s interest uppermost in mind, and be willing to make small concessions in the interest of keeping the peace. This is not always easy to do, but it’s critical.
If you need legal advice pertaining to your custodial arrangements, don’t hesitate to call us at 856-227-7888, or contact us at [email protected]. We’ll be happy to provide a free consultation on your legal matter.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.