How to Co-Parent After Divorce
Even if you are no longer married to your ex, if you have children you are still connected as co-parents. Divorce can create some very ugly feelings and make having a good working relationship challenging. However, these problems typically have nothing to do with your children and it is in their best interests to work together to raise them. If you set some basic ground rules and use these tips to keep you on track you will find the process of co-parenting much more effective for you and your kids.
Communication is key. Too many divorced parents only speak together when there is a major problem. By this point, emotions can be out of control and it might even be at a point where the communication has degenerated to yelling and screaming at one another. Instead, talk about problems at the early stages and schedule a time to talk with one another about day-to-day issues. A short phone call every week is an important part of keeping everyone up to date on how well the children are doing.
Talk about discipline before it becomes a problem. A child of divorced parents may gleefully play one parent off the other, but ultimately this is a very unsettling situation for the child. They need to be clear on what the rules are and that there are boundaries. Speak with your ex about how they want things handled and compromise on appropriate discipline for the children. Even if you are no longer a married couple it is important to provide a united front for the child.
While you should never argue in front of your child, discussions are another thing. Children learn conflict resolution through watching their parents and if every discussion takes place behind closed doors they may begin to think that no effort is required. Talk with your ex spouse in front of your children and show them that, while you are no longer together, you can still speak in a civil manner and reach reasonable solutions to problems.
Do not speak badly about your ex in front of the children. Not only does this undermine their authority, it tells the child that it is permissible to speak poorly about someone who is not present to defend themselves. In many cases, simply saying that you and your spouse do not see eye to eye is enough If they ask for more details, provide them as accurately and as calmly as possible. This is something that can make a huge difference in how your children regard their parents.
Seek Professional Help If Necessary
Divorce is tough on the entire family. Do not hesitate to seek counseling for you or the children if necessary. There are plenty of support groups for children of divorced parents as well as the divorced parents themselves. Family counseling can help make sure that old wounds do not fester and that you stay in tune with what your children need.
Dealing With Step-Parents
Discuss the prospect of stepparents before they become an issue. Talk with your ex about the role that they may have in your childrenÃs lives and how to incorporate that into the way things currently are. You may both wish to speak with your children about this issue. Take a moment to think about the place that your children have in your life and the role that your ex-spouse will continue to play.
About the Author
Scott Morgan is a board certified Austin divorce lawyer who regularly blogs on the subject of divorce and family law. You can read his blog at AustinDivorceSpecialist.com.