Getting a divorce means that you and your ex must find new ways to parent your children and ensure they grow up to be healthy, happy and well-adjusted adults. While this may seem like a big challenge, take solace in the fact that countless divorced parents have done this successfully. Through effective co-parenting, you can make sure you and your former partner remain on the same page when it comes to raising your children and provide even-handed discipline and guidance to them as they grow up.
These tips for effective co-parenting after your divorce tell you what you should avoid:
Do not undermine the other parent: Your children should understand that even if they are not spending equal amounts of time with both parents, they will still show each parent the same respect. Undermining the other parent’s authority will worsen the relationship between you and your former spouse unnecessarily, and it will also damage the relationship between that parent and your children. If court learns you are actively undermining the other parent, it will reflect poorly on you.
Do not badmouth the other parent: As angry as you may be at your ex following your divorce, you must never badmouth your former spouse in front of your kids. While you and your ex-spouse may no longer love each other or even like each other, it is crucial for the emotional health of your children to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. Talking poorly about the other parent in front of your kids could be damaging to them.
Do not use your children as messengers: If you have messages you need to pass to your former spouse, do not use your children to convey them. Be a mature adult and talk to the other parent yourself, whether it’s over the phone, via text or via email. If the relationship has disintegrated to the point where no form of direct communication works, talk through attorneys — but never the kids.
Do not limit contact between your kids and your former spouse: Most older children and teenagers have their own cellphones, so they can contact the other parent at any time — even when they are physically with you. While it’s perfectly fine to exercise some reasonable degree of control over how your kids use their phone, you should never attempt to limit private contact between your kids and their other parent. This will only cause resentment.
What’s just as important, however, is what you should do: find ways of communicating with your child’s other parent that work for you and protect your children. You and your former spouse are still going to have a lot to keep track of while raising your kids, including school, activities, appointments, and so on. To stay organized, figure out a system that works. Some people use online tools like Google Drive and Google Calendar. Simple text messages and phone reminders might also work. Whatever it takes, make sure you and your ex are both always up to date with everything that’s happening in your children’s lives.
Above all else, focus on the mental, physical and emotional health of your children. Even if you do not get along with your former partner, you can still do the right thing and establish a co-parenting plan that meets your children’s needs now and in the years to come.