Co-parenting after a divorce is hard. Here are some tips to make it easier.
If you have ever argued with your ex-spouse in front of the kids, talked badly about the other parent while they are not around or refused to allow your ex-spouse to visit with the kids, then you are doing co-parenting all wrong. However, you are not alone. In my practice, I’ve learned that co-parenting is often one of the hardest things that come with getting a divorce.
Co-parenting is seldom easy after a divorce — and it is especially hard for couples who had a lot of marital issues. It can be difficult to overcome all of the angry feelings to focus on raising kids together. But, making co-parenting work can help give your kids security and stability. With these tips, you can make joint or shared custody a positive experience for both you and your kids.
Focus on Collaboration
Unless your ex-spouse was abusive, used drugs or exhibited dangerous behavior, then set aside your resentment and other negative feelings and focus on collaborating with your ex to come up with a parenting schedule that works for both of you. If you can sit down and amicably agree to a solution, things will be much better for all parties involved. Amicable custody agreements tend to work out better over the long run than court-imposed ones.
Have a Positive Mindset
You probably know that it is important to avoid talking disrespectfully about your ex in front of your kids. However, you should take things a step further and keep a positive mindset when it comes to your ex. Don’t just try to avoid talking negatively about your ex. Remember the good qualities that you liked about your ex when you were together. Keep those qualities in your mind as you parent with your ex.
Be Consistent Yet Flexible
It is necessary to keep to rules and schedules that you have agreed upon at both households. Knowing what to expect does help reduce anxiety in kids. However, even the most structured plans change from time to time. For instance, sometimes school schedules vary to accommodate field trips. So, if your ex wants to take the kids to a game on your weekend, be flexible and open-minded. If you know that the kids will enjoy the game and it is not a regular occurrence, try to be understanding and gracious.
Focus on Communication
Communication should always be civil and respectful. Also, make sure you keep an open dialogue with your ex. Communicate directly rather than through the kids. It is okay to use texting, voicemail, text or whatever works best for you to talk about issues. You can also share information and schedules through apps designed for co-parenting, such as Parentship.
Consider Couples Therapy
You might be surprised to learn that couples' therapy is not just for couples who want to stay together. It is also great for former spouses or partners who want to work on being better co-parents after a divorce or split. Family therapy after a divorce is not aimed at healing wounds or reconciliation. Instead, it focuses on how to be better co-parents.
If you are looking for a couples’ therapist in Roseville or Sacramento to help you with co-parenting issues, contact us to schedule an appointment.
Lori Hunter, LMFT specializes in working with families, co-parenting and those high conflict couples struggling with relationships. She helps couples build intimacy, teaching effective emotional processing techniques that directly improve thoughts and behaviors.