fter my divorce, my children’s well-being was my primary concern. I didn’t want this separation to take a toll on their developing personalities, and I wanted to get as many co-parenting tips as possible from people who had been in my situation.
Separation is a challenging experience for everyone concerned. Even after the main drama is finished, establishing a healthy co-parenting relationship with your former partner is a central issue. It’s often easier said than done, but co-parenting communication needs to be civilized and respectful for the kids’ sake (and your own.)
It’s usually in your child’s best interest to have close relationships with both co-parents. Unless the family has gone through abuse, domestic violence, or addiction, it’s always best for the children to experience quality parenting time with both parties.
I’ve gathered seven successful co-parenting strategies to help you build a solid structure for your future as a co-parent to happy, healthy kids. I hope they’ll help you as they’ve helped me.
The most crucial step is for both parents to heal from the separation so decisions aren’t made based on past misunderstandings. If one of you still hasn’t done the work to accept the separation and move on to the next chapter in your life, it will lead to less than ideal circumstances for everyone.
When you’re argumentative with your ex-spouse, every action and decision can become a reason for new misunderstandings in front of your children. Until you heal and start viewing the relationship with your former partner as something that has been completed instead of viewing it as a failure, parenting issues will keep emerging.
Once you start self-reflecting on your role at the end of the relationship and feel happier on your own, it will be easier to focus on effective co-parenting.
Before you create a parenting plan with your former spouse, put yourself in your child’s shoes and think about their new day-to-day life. Then, try to make things as easy and fuss-free as possible for them.
It’s best to talk to your co-parent about specific day-to-day activities upfront and determine a schedule that works for each parent. Staying on track will help you avoid conflict in the future.
For example, determine a time for phone call check-ups when your kid is at the other parent’s so you can both avoid calling at a bad moment.
This is where it gets interesting. Co-parenting includes decision-making, collaborating if your child has trouble in school, scheduling various events, and more.
My major burning question was, “How in the world am I supposed to agree on things with a person I just separated from after years of awful communication?”
Turns out, it’s possible — especially today with all of the helpful technology out there. The most significant thing I’ve learned is that putting your children’s needs before your frustration with your ex-spouse may take effort, but it’s certainly worth it.
Whether we like it or not, co-parenting is a united front, and a good way to truly succeed at even the most minor daily duties is to try to cooperate.
Try not to bad-mouth each other in front of the children. I’ve learned that if you want this co-parenting arrangement to work, some set ground rules and understandings are necessary on both sides — especially when creating a schedule that works for everyone.
With the ideal life for your child in mind, you and your ex should try to work together on a plan that will respect both of your independence, time, and schedule. It’s not exactly teamwork, but you might call it joint effort.
Taking care of child support is only one part of managing the finances. There are many daily shared expenses to take care of, and it can be pretty overwhelming to stay on top of things. The initial transition to co-parenting is stressful enough without texting back and forth about who owes who for theater camp tuition.
Luckily, calculating and tracking shared costs and reimbursements doesn’t have to be complicated nowadays. Apps like Onward allow you to manage everything with minimal communication with your ex.
It was created to take care of all expense-related communication between co-parents. You can see who paid for the new ballet shoes and who owes their half of the math tutor’s weekly pay — without having to talk about it all the time. The app helps both parents stay current on payments. Settling expenses and reimbursements is a piece of cake now; having to nag and nudge your ex-partner so they pay you back for co-parenting expenses is a thing of the past.
Getting separated from the children can be challenging for some parents, especially in the beginning. The house may feel huge and quiet when your son or daughter leaves and closes the door. To me, it was like all I did on those days was wait for the kids to come back. That’s before I discovered that I am, in fact, a single grown-up with many interests and numerous ways to enjoy my time away from the kids.
While it’s normal to miss your child, you don’t have to be miserable while they’re away. Now is the time to call those friends over and have a small gathering. Read an exciting book, go on a night out, or start that online course you’ve been interested in for a long time.
Instead of focusing on missing your kids, start filling your alone time with uplifting activities, and you may find yourself looking forward to that time alone. Not to mention the fact your kid might even notice you being happier with yourself. Your positive attitude will fuel theirs as they navigate this emotional transition.
It’s easy to slip into good cop/bad cop parenting. Even if you and your former partner have different parenting styles, successful co-parenting must include unity and agreement in various daily situations.
By now, you probably already know the things you and your ex disagree on. However, it’s still good to talk about conflicts and go into detail as they happen to avoid confusing your child.
For example, my co-parent and I disagreed on the extracurricular activity our daughter should focus on in junior high. My ex was all for art lessons to spark her creativity, while I thought she should focus on her tennis lessons to get her body moving and learn teamwork. After a debate about our child’s needs, we finally agreed both activities were beneficial for our daughter and let her decide which she liked more.
Instead of falling into the good cop/bad cop trap good cop/bad cop trap, you should try to figure out the pros and cons of each side and always consider what your child wants.
Separation is a huge life event that affects everyone involved, and it’s sometimes best to consider counseling for everyone’s sake. With the divorce rate as high as it is nowadays, seeing a counselor isn’t a rarity.
Talking is the best medicine. Find someone you can openly express your feelings to so you can get clarity on things you can’t see on your own. Your shoulder to lean on doesn’t have to be a licensed family therapist — it can be your best friend, a relative, someone close to you who can listen to you. You may also reach out to a local support community or ask a friend who’s already separated for advice and directions.
Talking about your feelings will help you put things into perspective and continue your life with the confidence you need.
Separating from a partner may signify the end of one era, but it also certainly indicates the beginning of a new one.
For effective co-parenting, you must avoid the trap of thinking the separation has changed your child’s life for the worse. Life is much better after divorce for many children. Once you get separated, any unpleasant situations the children may have witnessed become a thing of the past. The kids often feel more relaxed and find it easier to focus on their own everyday activities. Choose to view this as a new beginning for you and the kids. With the help of successful co-parenting strategies, you can embrace all the adventures this new way of life is about to throw your way.
Successful co-parenting may be challenging, but you can create a healthy environment and sense of security for everyone involved if you use the right strategies.
We know it may sound surreal, but we promise it’s doable.
Diana is a writer who specializes in blogging. She's on a mission to inform and uplift people in complex and confusing life situations she's been through herself. When not working, you'll find her at the seaside or in the mountains.