Co-parenting after a divorce can be, well, not the easiest. Getting divorced is an emotional and tiring process. However, when you throw kids in the mix you must always remember to set your ego aside and put your kids first.
Some states require that you take a co-parenting course while going through the divorce process. If that is the case, I highly recommend that you take the course and take it all in. I took it and I'm pretty proud of myself for abiding by mostly everything I learned.
My goal is for my daughter to experience a healthy mind, body, and soul during her childhood and well into her adulthood. I believe we all know how important it is to have balance. If you look at the big picture, there's a reason why you and your ex-spouse came together and made this little miracle. You couldn't have done it on your own. This was truly meant to be. So give credit where credit is due.
Sure, co-parenting as divorced parents isn't exactly the ideal situation you imagined for your child in the beginning, but guess what? It is what it is now. So, time to make it a lot easier on yourself and your child. Your child deserves a healthy upbringing. Kids can and will adjust as best they can. It may be tough in the beginning but hopefully and eventually you will all get into the swing of things and reach the goals you have set as parents for your little one(s).
Here are a few tips that, in my experience, help make co-parenting after a divorce go more smoothly:
1. Communication is key. Truly work on trying to figure out a schedule that works for the two of you. Try to stick with it and if changes need to be made then talk to your partner. You can't read each other's mind. This will save you from a huge headache. Being combative or always on the defense is not going to help at all. So, try to chill out and be neutral and understanding of each other's time. Your kids are not objects. Don't use them to hurt one another or complicate each other's lives. If you can make the change then great! If not, then be clear and communicate that and if anything find a way to be helpful in making the adjustment easier for the both of you. I know too many people in this situation who use their kids as a tool to get back at or frustrate their ex. And for what? Only to dislike each other more.
2. You don't have to be estranged in order to prove you're now divorced. It's healthy for your kids to see their parents in the same setting. Granted you're not technically together but you don't have to pretend you hate each other. Kids are smart and they also have a beautiful heart. These moments can be very much what they need to fill that void of the ideal family. I think they will cherish these moments in the long run and will be helpful in their growth mentally.
3. If you don't get along, don't express your frustrations in front of your kids. No matter what age your child/children are they understand EVERYTHING!! LOL! I swear they do! LOL.. So don't stress them out with your issues. Not only do they understand what's going on, they remember everything. So if you've got a problem save the drama or catty gossip with your friends for another time when your kids are not around. It's not healthy for them to hear it.
4. Try to communicate the good things about your ex to your child. My divorce was early into my daughter Violet's life, so my family and I choose to share certain pictures, stories, and memories of the good times we shared and how she was made from love. My parents divorced when I was about 15 and to this day I reminisce about all the great memories made between my parents and how all that makes me the woman I am today.
5. If your ex has moved on to new beginnings then try your best to mind your business and not get caught up in your feelings. Allow yourself to be open cause after all hopefully you'll be finding your own special someone soon! There's nothing worse than being the miserable one trying to make life more difficult all the while the world is stiiiilll moving. As parents, it is our job to have good judgment on who we choose to bring around our kids. So pray that the new girl or guy IS that person. And trust that your ex is making a good decision for your child and for themselves. Your ex's new partner can't and never will replace you, however, they may become your best ally in raising your kids!!! Don't get me wrong. Do whatever proper investigation you need to make yourself comfortable to know your kids are in good hands..! LOL. And if you are the one in a new relationship then take your time and get to know the person you're inviting into your and your child's life before even doing an introduction. You want to be safe — and remember that this is a sensitive time in your child's life. You wanna make sure your new relationship is worthwhile before adding someone new into your child's life…. And give your children the time to adjust to the situation as well.
Bonus fact: Therapy is not a bad thing. Try it. I've done it and it has helped me in my personal growth and stability. If your kids need it then bring them or help them find the right outlet as they go through this change. Sports, arts and crafts. Outdoor activities. This can all be great mental therapy for them and for you. 🙂
So there it is! I'm sure there is so much more I could have touched on, but I'm not here to tell you what to do. Hopefully just help make your life a little easier. I live by these rules and so far, despite the ups and downs, I've been successful in parenting an amazing child who is warm, loving, and untainted despite our own tribulations. And that's all I could ever ask for!