These co-parenting tips will make your life easier. Honest.
Co-parenting often proves a nightmarish, combative process, with your children’s health and well-being as collateral damage.
Resentful and embittered divorced parents share inappropriate information with their children, or just outright lie to them about the other parent. Some do it for revenge. Some do it to maintain control over their children, whom they believe are “theirs” more than the other parent’s, and that the ends justify the means.
The real victims, however, are the children. They get deprived of emotional wellness and a chance for a healthy relationship with both parents. Even if sabotaging the parental relationship is successful, and the relationship between the children and the other parent is severed, the relationship with the alienating parent is far from healthy.
So here’s what to do, for your kids, instead of distancing your kids from your ex.
Co-Parenting Tips: Do’s and Don’ts to Help You Fight Less and Accomplish More for Your Kids
Each of these three co-parenting tips is broken up into the wrong way and right ways to approach serving your children’s best interests. The wrong way examines common mistakes remarried parents make, and the right way suggests a better, alternative approach that will help your kids feel happier, safer, and loved.
Don’t Let Anger at Your Ex Prevent Collaborating to Meet Your Children’s Needs
Don’t: Have an Adversarial Parenting Attitude
You may still be angry, disappointed, and sad over the end of the relationship. Perhaps you even feel betrayed by your former spouse. Sharing any of these feelings with your mutual children is hurtful and damaging to your children. Children see themselves as extensions of their parents, with the good and the bad. So, if you paint a picture to your children of the other parent as selfish, mean, and uncaring, they will wonder how much of this description describes them.
Do: Have a Cooperative Parenting Attitude
The more your children see their biological (or adopting) parents invest in co-parenting lovingly, effectively, and consistently, the more emotionally stable they feel. Children need to see that adults—in this case, their parents—are able to rise above emotional barriers, and cooperate for the greater good of their family well being. One of the greatest lessons in life is to teach children that while we are all entitled to our feelings, it is wrong to act out some feelings. A separation between feelings and behaviors is crucial to a healthy, compassionate society.
Don’t Distance Your Kids From Their Other Biological Parent
Don’t: Alienate the Other Parent
In other words, don’t keep the parent out of the child’s life or badmouth the other parent to your children.
You don’t have to like your former spouse, however, you don’t need to share this sentiment with your children. You may believe that your former spouse has questionable values, beliefs, and behaviors. These are probably some of the reasons you are no longer together. Your children relationship with their other parent didn’t end, and will never end in most cases unless there is danger to your children’s physical and emotional well being.
Do: Talk Respectfully to Your Children About Their Other Parent.
Spare your children from your (negative) feelings and opinions of your former spouse. Remember, your children need their other parent for their emotional development. Yes, having a mediocre parent is by far better than being abandoned by a parent. Nobody’s perfect, not even you. Having different parenting styles is just that, different. Not better or worse. Make peace in your heart that your ex is in your life through the kids for good.
Ease Your Children’s Transition Between Homes
Don’t: Interrogate Your Children About What Took Place in the Other Household
Demanding information on what the other home looks like, the stepparent, income, vacation plans, and specific interactions makes children anxious, insecure and frustrated. Children feel like they are between a rock and a hard place. They feel that the only way to get you off their back is to share information with you. However, that makes them feel like they are betraying their other parent. The focus needs to be what is in your children’s best interest not yours. When you insist on getting information, you are actually telling your children that satisfying your need for information supercedes their well being.
Do: Let Them Bring Home as Much of the Other Household as They Need
Your children need empathy, support, and compassion in their transition.
When they return to your home, they may bring a picture of their other parent. They may also bring stories about their experiences from the other household. Their sharing those experiences with you means they feel at ease.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have boundaries. This doesn’t mean prying or interrogating; it’s just listening to what they volunteer to share, as part of their transitioning between homes. In other words, honor the privacy of the other household, while simultaneously not shutting your children’s voices out in the event they need to share.
By setting an example, you can expect them to do the same at the other household, but if over-sharing is a problem, then gently inform them of your boundaries.
How These Co-Parenting Tips Help You & Your Kids Going Forward
So, co-parenting well sets the stage to make your life easier by mitigating a source of potential conflict and truly sharing the care-taking of the kids.
Co-parenting effectively does a lot for your children. It provides a solid foundation for happy families by providing healthy boundaries. Those give your kids a better chance at growing into healthy, independent adults, who can one day become good parents themselves.