There are ways to make co-parenting go a little easier for all involved. Remember this is all about your children, so making an extra effort will result in happier kids.
Here are the top 5 co-parenting tips:
1. Encourage the Grandparent connection. Grandparents can be the anchor for kids in the turbulence surrounding divorce.
They can provide a haven where kids have fun and forget about their parents’ troubles. Your former in-laws may be waiting for you to make the first move or unsure if any bitterness towards their offspring is spilling over onto them. If one is uncomfortable talking to them at first, then send an e-mail or letter letting them know how important they are to your children’s lives.
An elderly couple was sad when their son and daughter-in-law got a divorce. These grandparents loved their young grandchildren’s mum and offered to babysit for her whenever she needed it. When they went out of town, they would give her a name of a family member as backup, who could watch the kids in a pinch. She appreciated this kindness, since her family did not live nearby.
2. Clarify to the kids that you support their relationship with the other parent. They have overheard angry words and witnessed hostility. Explain that you both are not able to be married anymore, but you respect each other as parents.
Reassure kids that there is not a tug-of-war going on with them caught in the middle. This will help them to feel happier and more relaxed about going between homes. When the kids are adjusting well, then co-parenting is easier.
3. Remember to send a present from the child to the other parent, for gift-receiving occasions. He/she feels more appreciated and knows that you were behind this nice gesture. The kids then do not go empty-handed for birthdays and so forth.
4. Reach out to the new step-parent, if feasible. They are helping to oversee care, meals and other routines. The shared time goes smoother when all are on the same page. My mum made sure that I invited my step-mother to my synchronized swimming performances.
When step-parents feel included, it increases their connection to the children. When my step-grandfather was hospitalized a few times, he made sure my nurse mother was notified that he was a patient. She would pop down on her break to see this jolly fellow and get a big hug.
5. Communication. Communication. Communication. This was contributed by my younger son who has friends with divorced parents. From a kid’s point of view, when parents put aside animosity and communicate – their lives are more stable.
Yes, your wife is the Wicked Witch’s twin sister, or your husband, the world’s biggest jerk.
Put these angry feelings behind you and communicate about school events, sport tournaments etc., in a calm neutral manner. Your kids will appreciate this maturity.
One can vent to girlfriends or moan to mates over a pint – just so it is not around the children. Like other things that are learned, co-parenting gets better with more practice and time. Keep in mind its important goal: more secure children.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce
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