Co-Parenting After Divorce

Co-parenting after divorce.Divorce is such a debilitating experience that once the papers are signed the last person you probably want to see is your ex. Yet when kids are involved, one must learn to co-raise children in the best possible way. Nobody said it’s easy, but by putting some effort into it, being rational, and setting your personal hatreds aside, it’s doable. The following list of do’s and don’ts can help you achieve a successful co-parenting experience.

1. Dialogue and more dialogue. Children are watching how their parents behave, and are deeply affected by your relationship with your ex. They need to know that although divorced, their parents are two mature adults who can engage in a dialogue and work through their conflicts—at least when it comes to parenting.

2. Stick to a routine. Establish a custody agenda that allows children to have a familiar routine. This way they will feel comfortable, safe, and know when, where, and for how long they will be with either parent.

3. Be flexible for important events. If there is a special occasion—a birthday or an opportunity for a vacation—cooperate with your ex so that your children have the best possible experience.

4. Share the milestones. Do not be stingy about sharing important moments in your child’s life. Send your ex a text message, email, photograph or short video of occasions such as the first lost tooth, a school concert, or a drawing that your kid did for his father. You may no longer love you ex-husband, but your child does.

5. Make plans for your children’s future together. Choosing a school or a pediatrician are important decisions and both parents should be present. Informing your ex when your child falls ill and visits the doctor is crucial as well.

Read Related: When Parents of Special Needs Children Divorce

6. Divide or share celebrations and family reunions. If the divorce has been friendly and the relationship between the adults is relatively good, you can celebrate things like birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving together. But only do this if you know for sure that there won’t be arguments and anger. If there is still a lot of hostility, divide the celebrations so that children alternatively enjoy them with mom or dad.

7. Don’t use economic blackmail. It’s possible that your ex-husband is not keeping up his end of the deal with child support. You may have to take legal action to get him to pay but that does not mean that you can deny him the right to see his children. Remember that children are not interchangeable merchandise. If you keep your kids from seeing their dad, you are not stopping your ex from seeing his children; you are depriving your children of seeing their father, and that hurts them.

8. Allow regular calls to Daddy. Allow your children to have open communication with their father. Give them a telephone whenever they request it and help them dial the numbers if they are too young to do it by themselves. You can consider getting your kids a cell phone when they’re old enough so that they can call whenever they want.

9. Build a new kind of relationship. Allow your ex-husband to be a real part of your children’s lives, through the good and the bad. Let them build a solid relationship with him, and don’t be jealous about it, even if it is hard for you.

10. The Don’ts.

  • Don’t argue with your ex-husband while the children are present. This makes them confused and sad.
  • Don’t criticize your ex-husband or his family in front of the children—they are your kids’ family, too.
  • Don’t make your children feel that they are a cause of past or present problems with your ex-husband.

Successful co-parenting is that in which both parents really put their children’s interests and happiness first. Your marriage may be over, and you may hate your ex’s guts, but you both will be your children’s parents forever. It’s a responsibility you both owe to your kids.