Deciding to end a marriage is difficult. Even more so when you have children. Divorce is full of many negative emotions and many parents are afraid of how those may impact their children.
The thought of co-parenting with your ex or finding common ground may seem like the impossible. While every situation is unique, we believe the following tips can be a good starting point for creating a healthy environment for your children. An environment which will not only help them adjust to, but thrive in, the new family dynamic.
Regardless of the facts and circumstances that led to the divorce, both you and your ex can make choices for how to move forward in a successful co-parenting relationship that will benefit you and your children.
How to Create a Healthy Co-Parenting Environment
1. Be Kind (or at the very least, be neutral).
When interacting with your ex, choose to set aside your hurt and anger (even if only for the moment). Divorce is an emotional process and it’s normal for the negative feelings to linger long after the divorce is final. But when dealing with your ex, especially when it involves the children, do your best to practice kindness. If you can’t be kind, be neutral.
When interacting with your ex:
- focus on sharing information and facts,
- focus on outcomes and resolving conflict, and
- keep the interaction free of insults and aggression
2. Your child’s well-being should be your only desired outcome.
You and your ex likely couldn’t agree on much before the divorce, and it is unlikely that you will agree on everything after the divorce. When differences of opinion or disagreements arise focus on finding common ground and a solution that is in the best interest of the children and try to set aside your own desires.
If you believe that your child’s safety and well-being may be at risk, immediately call the police and consult with your attorney.
3. Be the “Parents”
It is important for your children to feel heard, understood, and that their opinions matter, but ultimately, the decisions are for you and your ex to make. Respect their relationship with the other parent and don’t force a “good cop/bad cop” situation. Using your child’s wishes against the other parent, puts your child at the center of the disagreement and at risk of feeling rejected by the other parent and misunderstood by both of you.
The messages you each should be sending your child is that you both love him or her, that your child’s opinion is important and will be considered, but you all will ultimately make the decision. If you can agree to take this approach, it will create a unified parenting front for your children.
Successfully co-parenting is not easy It takes work to create a healthy environment for the kids to thrive, a challenge that is compounded when both parents are not committed to a good co-parenting relationship. If you find yourself struggling to communicate with the other parent, there may be legal options available to improve communication. We can assist you in determining what option is best for your family.
Blog written by Attorney Jamie Allgood