Separation and divorce are always difficult things to go through in life. But when you’re one of the two adults involved, although you may not want it to happen, you can at least rationalise the situation and deal with it.
However, things are always more complicated when there are children involved and seeing their parents split up can be a really harrowing experience for kids. For the parents, it makes the journey tougher in a lot of ways, too, as you have to put your own feelings of loss, anger and frustration aside and make things as positive as you can for the kids’ sake.
Of course, it’s best if the adults can manage the split in a way that has as little impact on the children as possible and, moving on from there, that they be able to co-parent their children effectively even though they are now living apart.
Co-parenting – A skill that has to be learned
Everyone knows different friends and acquaintances who have been separated. For every separated couple who manage the process well for their children, there always seem to be more former couples who can’t manage it.
If you look at the principles of co-parenting, it can make things easier. Though two people no longer feel they can live together, they want to have joint responsibility for raising their children and to provide them with a secure and loving family environment to grow up in.
However, in practice, it’s often difficult to achieve successful co-parenting unless you on are good terms with your ex.
In the aftermath of a divorce or separation, you may feel like you’ll never be able to reach an understanding with your ex. But for the sake of the kids, it’s best if you can put personal feelings aside and focus on doing what you can together to make sure that the children feel secure and loved.
None of us can be perfect all the time, but when you struggle with any co-parenting issues, the strategies below should help.
- Communicate with each other about the kids regularly
- Make a pact with your ex that you will both speak positively about each other to the kids. You shouldn’t prejudice them against their other parent.
- Have rules and stick to them. This will help you ensure that your joint parenting is consistent and that the kids don’t get mixed messages
- Don’t punish your ex through the kids. Even when you’re having problems dealing with your ex, try not to restrict their access to the children as a way to get even. Children shouldn’t be used as pawns in the conflict between their parents.
Co-parenting can be tough at times, but there are examples of making it work. You’ll be glad that you did all you could to give your children the best possible childhood regardless of the fact that you and your partner didn’t stay together. And, hopefully, they’ll also appreciate that. As a bonus, you may also soon reach a stage where you and your ex get along better.
* This post was written by Lucy Tanner