Focus on the Child
One thing that successful co-parents have in common is that they put their children first. They are able to set the issues they have with their ex-spouses aside in order to parent more effectively. Parents need to have clear rules that they can communicate to children in order to provide consistency between households, and in order to do so they need to agree with each other. It is better for children if their parents can be civil to one another.
Children can sense when their parents are upset, and it is detrimental for children to see their parents arguing. It can be difficult for them when two people they love are attacking one another. They may feel guilty for continuing to love both parents. As such, parents should avoid fighting with one another in front of their children. They should also refrain from insulting the other parent when speaking to the child. Children may feel like it is criticism of them, since both their parents are parts of them.
Communication is critical for co-parents. They need to tell on another about important events in their children’s lives such as school conferences, tests, sporting events, field trips, academic performance and medical issues.
Parents also need to talk to one another about schedules, far in advance if possible. They should try to plan vacations and holidays well ahead of time so that it is not necessary to scramble at the last minute, adding stress to an already stressful time. If the regular custody schedule needs to change, the parent who needs to change should inform the other parent as soon as possible.
Perhaps the most important thing parents need to remember is not to use their children as messengers. Children feel caught in the middle of parents’ conflicts when they have to act as go-betweens. Some parents find it difficult to talk to one another in person or on the phone, and they find that every conversation devolves into an argument. They may consider using electronic communication such as email or text message. Doing so allows parents to deliver important information about children without straying from the topic and getting into fights.
Parents who make efforts to be flexible also have more success in co-parenting.
Parents who realize that life changes frequently and understand that circumstances may arise that require alterations to schedules are less angry and stressed by the other parent when such incidents occur, and can be generous in accommodating the other parent’s requests. Parents who show themselves willing to adjust schedules usually find the other parent more cooperative when they need to make changes, as well.
Parenting is a challenge, and it becomes even greater after a divorce. Child custody issues require the assistance of an experienced family law attorney who can offer guidance about their specific situations.