Effective Co-Parenting After Divorce: What to Say and Do for the Sake of Your Child

Divorce can be an emotionally taxing, anxiety-provoking event for an entire family. However, healthy co-parenting after divorce will help reduce the negative impact on their children.  

What is Co-Parenting?

Co-parenting is where divorced or separated parents work together collaboratively to raise their child or children, even after ending their relationship. Co-parents cooperate to determine their children’s optimal care and upbringing.

Why is Co-Parenting Important?

Psychologist Elizabeth Ellis, known for her book Divorce Wars, has identified the number one factor that determines the outcome of divorce for children: conflict. While reading through this article, keep in mind that it is crucial to handle conflict without involving the children. Healthy co-parenting after divorce means that both parents need to support each other for the sake of their children’s well-being.  

By following the tips below to the best of your ability, the distress of divorce can be substantially minimized for everyone involved.

5 Co-Parenting Tips After Separation or Divorce

  1. Keep communication business-like.
    • Stay focused on the mutual goal, which is your children’s well-being. When in disagreement, identify a desired outcome that can be agreed on. 
  2. If you’re feeling emotional, hit pause.
    • If you are feeling angry or upset toward the co-parent and the communication is non-urgent, wait 24 hours before responding to limit potential conflict. 
  3. Establish ground rules (preferably in writing) for major decisions.
    • Certain topics need to be agreed upon by both parents, including schedules, finances, healthcare, college, discipline rules, and any major decisions.
  4. Let go of minor decisions.
    • However, when it comes to the more minor decisions, it’s best to leave the other parent to parent as they see best. You don’t have control over the other parent, and trying to take control will likely create conflict and more stress for your children.
  5. Consider using a co-parenting app.
    • Consider utilizing a co-parenting app to make communication, scheduling, and finances more civil and streamlined.
    • Co-parenting apps can especially come in handy when communication often turns into conflict, there’s frequent miscommunication, and/or children have become messengers between the parents. Even if you communicate well with your co-parent, co-parenting apps can help keep things organized.

      Critical Reminders for Co-Parents

      • Avoid speaking badly about the co-parent.
        • Information often will reach children’s ears even if you’re not venting in front of them. If you’re holding onto negative feelings toward the other parent, your kids are likely to pick up on it. Do your best to leave your kids out of it. It’s not fair for children to feel torn between their parents.
      • If you are dating someone new, leave them out of parenting-related concerns until a substantial amount of time has passed.
        • It’s also not recommended to lie to your children about the fact that you’re dating. Referring to a new partner as a “friend” is something kids will see right through.

      Tips for Helping Your Children Cope With Divorce 

      • Focus on creating a secure, loving environment at home.
        • Although divorce is likely to bring on some symptoms of anxiety and/or depression for children, they are adaptable and will be able to handle it. Kids don’t need a two-parent home, nor do they need to be protected from the reality of divorce. Kids need love.
      • What kids need to hear during divorce:
        • Psychologist Dr. Paul Jenkins, who has worked with children of divorce for many years, has created a video emphasizing two phrases that they often need to hear when their parents separate:  
        • “It’s not your fault” (It is NEVER the child’s fault!)
        • “No one knows exactly why this happened” (there are only different perceptions)
        • For more guidance on this topic, check out this blog.

      Tips for Taking Care of Yourself 

      • Taking care of yourself and your children through this transition is essential.
        • It’s not uncommon for children of divorce to feel like they have to take care of their parents post-divorce. Parent issues are not kid issues, and it’s important for them to be able to focus on being kids. If the divorce is taking a toll on you or if you’re worried about the impact on your children, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist!
      • Use your children’s time with the other parent to connect back with yourself.
        • It can be difficult to have this new time alone, so use the time to connect with old hobbies and people you’ve lost touch with, try new things, and find enjoyment in spending time with yourself.  
      • Trust that things are going to be ok.
        • This is not easy stuff, and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, and if you are feeling unsure about yourself, bring your focus back to your children.  
      • Consider Therapy.
        • Individual therapy for you can be especially helpful during this major life change.

      If you are looking for a mental help counselor to help support you through this major change in your life, reach out to Mindfully. We can match you with an empathic therapist who will help guide you through this transition. Contact us at 888-830-0347 or get scheduled by clicking HERE.

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