Divorce is stressful, but when it involves minor children, it is even more so. Eventually, parents come to terms with the fact that while they are divorcing each other, they are not divorcing their children and they must work together to co-parent.
If you are on the brink of divorce and are concerned about building a successful co-parenting relationship, here are our tips to make that goal a reality:
Treat your spouse with respect. During your divorce, if you treat your spouse with respect, it will make it easier to co-parent during the separation and after the divorce is finalized.
Help your children cope with the divorce. Adults are not the only ones who suffer during a divorce; many children have difficulty coping as their family life is turned upside-down. If you are not sure how to help your children through this transition, you can seek a therapist’s advice or read books on children and divorce written by experts.
Take the high road. Even if you have bitter feelings toward your husband or wife, it’s best not to share your resentment with your children and acquaintances. Rather, take the high road when people ask you why you are getting a divorce. By taking a mature approach, you are reducing the chances of upsetting your spouse and the divorce escalating out of control.
Focus on your children. Divorce is a highly stressful event. One of the best ways to help you and your children cope is to spend lots of quality time with your children. While you do this, don’t forget to reinforce the fact that you love them and the divorce is not their fault.
Use discretion when dating. After a divorce, a child’s emotions can be raw, especially if the child is in fourth grade or above. Often, all children want is for their parents to get back together. That said, if you decide to date again, exercise discretion. Plan your dates for nights when your children are at the other parent’s house instead of hiring a babysitter. If you do find someone “special,” be cautious about making introductions too soon. Many experts recommend waiting six months before introducing a new partner to one’s children.
Consider staying close to your children. If you are the non-custodial parent, one of the best ways to maintain a good relationship with your children is to remain physically close. If you can stay within the same school zone, it can make all the difference in the frequency of meaningful interactions with your children.
Be open to flexibility. You may have a stressed relationship with your former spouse, but that does not have to affect scheduling. If you and the other parent can be flexible with each other’s schedules, it can make co-parenting much easier. For instance, if the other parent needs to go out of town on business, you should see this as a bonus opportunity to see your children. Such an approach is healthier than saying, “It’s not my turn, find someone else to watch the children.”
Treat your former spouse’s partner with respect. While this can be emotionally challenging, everyone benefits, especially your children. If your former husband or wife enters a new relationship, treat the new partner with dignity and respect. You will be setting a good example to your children.
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