Being a co-parent is not easy for some. I have 3 years of experience on this subject and I would like to share with you a few highlights of what I have learned about co-parenting and challenges we all might face. Understandably each family or ex marriage’s got different dynamics, different length of “service”, different reasons behind the divorce.
No matter how hurt we are, we will always have a responsibility towards our children and our rights. No matter what, we will always be parents, and we should aim to be the best ones. Together and separately.
Ask your children for their opinions.
When making plans of any sort, holidays, their own room in your house, arrangements regarding sleepovers, always talk to your children. It’s important to ask them what they think about it, how would they like to see it, as our view might not be the same and our perspective distorted by a relationship with an ex. Don’t assume that you know better – communicate with children and with your ex when decisions are about to be made.
Never ASSUME… it makes an ASS out of U and ME.
Think about others.
Your child/children have you and their other parent. They also have many other important people around them. It’s important to remember that children need also their grandparents, uncles and aunties, friends and best pals. It’s difficult to keep up with everyone, to have friendly relationships, people will judge, people unnecessarily taking sides and condemned the other parent, this is shallow – but remember – it’s only telling you more about their own values, not yours.
Sometimes it is hard to be a friend with your ex, but no matter what you both are parents and you need to act like accordingly. It’s important to communicate with each other, without anger, without emotions, in a friendly and respectful manner. If you have any issues, running late, plans need to be amended or changed, be in touch with the other parent right away. It’s nothing worse than people who do not communicate, whatever is happening children are always victims of these actions. The same transparency is expected towards the children.
Inform the school about the situation, just briefly as they don’t need to know details. Ask them also to add you to a mailing list, let them know your new address and inform about any arrangements in terms who is picking up child/children and when. This also will give school valuable knowledge and will help to monitor any changes or emotional issues, as divorce or separation always impacting our children.
Don’t be a d*#k.
Don’t badmouth your ex, don’t talk rubbish about the other parent around children, don’t ask people to take your side, don’t lie, dot exploit, do not play the blame game and be respectful. Keep your life to yourself and don’t comment on private decisions of your ex. Maybe, try to communicate only about children. I know that this is much easier said than done, but you have to let it go. Focus on kids, not on war with your ex.
Use a parenting plan.
I think this is one of the best tools I was able to use. It gives you a chance to target all important matters for your children and going through each page will help both parents to have the possible best outcome after completing it. It’s child-centred and in my opinion, should be mandatory with separation and divorce cases. Please use it, it will help your children to have the best possible chance of taking your divorce like a champ. You can read and download Your Parenting Plan here.
If necessarily use mediation services.
Remember, it’s not about who gets what, it’s about making sure that both parents have their rights and also responsibilities fulfilled and their children have the best possible life after their parents’ relationship broke down. Professional mediation can help to reach a compromise for both. In cases when parents can’t be present in the same room due to conflict or just finding it stressful or intimidating, ex-partners are eligible to use shuttle mediation. This will take longer but will take away the stress factor of the whole situation. Services are confidential, impartial, non-judgemental and independent.
Look for mediation services in your area.
Divorce, betrayal, lack of love, stress, dishonest or any reason is possible for ending the relationship. Life is not easy and sometimes we have to go separate ways. I know it hurts, I was there but nonetheless as parents and adults, we have to think about others too. Try to put yourself in other parent’s shoes, it might be harder for him/her. It might be unexpected or still very raw and emotional. Please try to think how would you feel on her/his position – this cost nothing but can keep parenting relationship in good shape and relatively healthy. Can you do that?
Divorces can be messy, but if we will focus on the wellbeing of our children, communication and with a wee good heart it can turn best for everyone. To be precise – if any parent is abusive, controlling or in any way harmful to other side or children it should be stated and parent removed from the equation. I’m also aware of parental alienation but this is not a blog post about it. This might help someone going through the same as I did some time ago – trust me, it’s still sunny on the other side.
Read more here
Happiness is still possible. Be kind to yourself and to others.