Do you dread speaking to your ex-spouse about parenting concerns? If so, you’re not alone. After a divorce is finalized and both of you start to move on with your lives, child-rearing is something that binds you together. However difficult talking to you “ex” may be, it’s important to keep the lines of communication about co-parenting open. Failure to do so places your children in a dangerous place where they may be left to sort through complex emotions without your support and guidance.
Children can survive and thrive with co-parenting
It’s important that your children understand, through your words and actions, that they are loved by both parents and are not responsible for the conflict that resulted in your divorce. Even though a divorce will not be easy for children, living in a stable, positive parenting relationship will help children of all ages in the following ways:
- Feeling safe and secure with both parents.
- Benefiting from consistency of rules, discipline, rewards and expectations.
- Understanding peaceful conflict resolution and problem solving.
- Having good adult role models.
There’s no doubt you want to do the right thing for your children, so take the time to remember these five important steps for creating a successful co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse or partner. Your children will thank you in the long run.
1. Express your values without criticizing your ex’s
Your ex is going to be a part of your child’s life regardless of how you feel them. Being openly negative about your ex to your children, or criticizing their values or lifestyle choices, not only places your children in a difficult position, but it hinders their ability to think independently and make their own decisions. Children take in information from people they love and place a priority on it – be sure the information they are receiving is positive and age-appropriate.
2. Make clear the rules and family values
Even though it will be hard at times, you and your ex need to adhere to a core set of family rules and values. If bedtime at one parent’s house is 9pm, then it needs to be 9pm at the other’s house. When there is behavioral consistency across households, you are both united if and when problems arise that involve the children. Remember that your goal as a parent is to raise happy and healthy children. Even if it is hard to talk with you ex about rules and values, keep in mind you are doing this for your children’s long-term benefit.
3. Make a plan for in-laws and extended family
While you may not want to see your in-laws or your ex’s extended family members, your children may want to – especially if they were close to them in the years preceding your divorce. Children often find it easier to open up to a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or older cousin during difficult times so try to let your children maintain a healthy relationship with family members they love and enjoy spending time with.
4. Present a unified front
Even if your co-parenting relationship appears to be successful and positive, there will come a time when a child will try to manipulate your emotions in order to avoid a punishment or attain a reward in an underhanded manner. It is imperative that you and your ex work together to ensure that your child(ren) know they cannot escape a punishment by calling or enlisting the support of the other parent. Refrain from reacting to a child’s emotional plea without knowing all the details first. Talk to your ex to find out what happened and what they believe the consequences should be. If you are following jointly determined family rules and values, it should be easier to stay on target and present a unified front to your child when their behavior is less than what you expect it to be.
5. Have a support network
Children don’t come with instruction manuals, and it can be doubly hard when you’re trying to co-parent successfully with your ex-spouse. Don’t be afraid to join a divorce support group or connect with a trained professional such as a family therapist or mental health counselor. They can help you develop strategies for effective child raising and co-parenting.
Divorce is rarely easy, but it doesn’t have to negatively impact your children. In fact, a divorce can result in a healthier environment for your children because they are no longer experiencing the anger and frustration of their parents. With open communication and committing to shared rules and values, co-parenting can be successful in raising healthy and independent children.
If you’re seeking the services of a divorce lawyer in Fort Collins that also serves the surrounding area, don’t hesitate to reach out to Laura Monty Law.