Divorce is always harder when you have children. Not only will you likely fight with your ex about custody and other child-rearing issues, or trying to set a fair divorce settlement agreement, but there are many negative effects of divorce on children. You can reduce some of these effects by working with family law specialists to achieve the best outcome between you and your ex and learning how to be a great co-parent and creating a positive environment between you and your ex.
Here are a few ways that you can better manage co-parenting after divorce to make life better for your children and the whole family:
Establish Consistent Rules
One of the most important parts of your co-parenting agreement should be the rules you have for your children, such as what is unacceptable behaviour and what consequences and disciplinary measures will be used. The consistency lets children know what to expect and makes them feel more secure despite the many changes they are experiencing.
Establishing consistent rules for both households at the outset can reduce the number of arguments between you and your ex.
Treat Your Partnership as a Business Relationship
You divorced for a reason. For most people, that means that the two of you aren’t able to communicate well and that you feel a lot of animosity toward one another. If you continue to interact with one another in the same way after your divorce, your attempt at co-parenting will be a disaster.
You need to take your personal feelings out of the equation and treat your co-parenting relationship the same way you would a business relationship. Talk about what’s best for your children the same way you would talk about trying to maximise profits for your company.
That may sound a little harsh, but it will help you keep the situation in perspective when you are getting angry and being pulled into an altercation.
Remain Positive About and Toward Your Ex
One of the biggest mistakes that divorced parents make is to talk negatively about their exes in front of the kids or use the kids as go-betweens. Bad mouthing your ex may feel good at the moment, but it will cause tension for your children and may make them feel negatively about their parent. It is best for your children’s happiness and well-being to have a strong and happy relationship with each parent, so you need to do everything you can to foster that.
You should not use your children as messengers either. Wait for drop off or pick up to talk to your ex, or pick up the phone or send an email. You need to have conversations with your spouse, and sending messages back and forth between your children is passive-aggressive and counterproductive.
Sometimes, your ex might show up an hour late dropping off the kids. You might get really upset about this and make a point about how your ex was always late or never reliable, but you should resist. Not only are you having an argument in front of the kids and creating a negative atmosphere, but you are also hurting your relationship with your ex. There may come a time when you need your ex to be flexible about times or some other part of your arrangement, and if you haven’t been flexible, they may not see a need to either.
Relationships are about given and take, and that continues even after your divorce. You have to give a little to get a little, so pick your battles. Be flexible and your ex will be, too.
Think Beyond the First 18 Years
Your co-parenting relationship won’t end when your children turn 18. You will continue to be parents until the day you die, and you will need to maintain a good relationship with your ex at the same time.
You will also continue to have responsibilities toward your children long after they turn 18, such as potentially helping pay for college, provide a place to live between gigs, or even pay for weddings. The law may even require you to support a child over 18 if he is still in school or to support an adult child who is mentally or physically disabled.
You must plan with your spouse how you will handle these responsibilities long after your children are grown.
By following these co-parenting tips, you can make life after divorce a little easier and do a better job helping children cope with divorce. You’ll ensure a healthy and stable home environment for your children and make your whole family stronger for it.