CO-PARENTING AFTER DIVORCE: THINGS TO DO AND THINGS TO AVOID
If you’ve been through a divorce, you and your kids may have already overcome many challenges as you worked together to find your “new normal.” And the way you and your ex relate to one another can have significant effects on your children’s ability to cope with the new arrangements and move on in life.
There are definitely issues that can cause your children stress, such as repeated exposure to parental conflict. If you and your ex disagree about a parenting issue, it’s always best to try to achieve a fair and agreeable compromise. Your children’s best interests are what’s most important. If you can’t resolve an issue on your own, it’s equally important to know where to seek support.
Child stress triggers
You no longer have to live with your former spouse. In fact, you may not even like being in the same room, especially if the marital issues that led to your break-up were particularly contentious. You do, however, have to interact with each other regarding your children. The following list shares tips that might be helpful to keep stress levels to a minimum:
- Bad-mouthing is bad form: If you’re upset about something your ex has said or done, it’s best to address the matter in private. Parents who say negative things about each other in front of their children usually wind up causing pain and confusion for the kids.
- Some things are not your business: You probably don’t have to know every little thing that goes on in your ex’s household. It’s best to try to resist the urge to quiz your children every time they come home from their other parent’s house.
- Keep life changes to a minimum for a while: Divorce might be the single biggest disruption in your children’s lives up to this point. It takes a while to adapt to a new lifestyle, so it might be helpful to your kids if you try not to make any other major changes in their lives for now.
- You can’t buy love: You might feel tempted to overcompensate for your divorce by slacking off on house rules or splurging on tons of gifts for your kids to try to keep up their spirits and get them thinking about other things. However, what they need most is love and support, and maintaining structure and routine can provide a sense that everything is going to be okay.
You and your ex obviously had marriage problems. At the same time, your children love both their parents and you are doing what’s best for them when you encourage them to stay in close contact with your ex. Perhaps they simply want to video chat or call their other parent to tell him or her about something funny or exciting that happened at school. Not letting them contact him or her may only lead to trouble.
If legal problems arise
It’s natural for parents to experience disagreements from time to time. However, if a problem arises that you don’t feel equipped to handle on your own, it’s definitely okay to reach out for support. Many parents seek the court’s intervention, especially if the problem at hand has to do with custody orders, child support or other legal matters.