Co-parenting after divorce is challenging but doable with planning focused on the children’s needs.
Agreement on rules for co-parenting is key, setting up guidelines for both parents, and having a constructive and productive dialogue with your ex is crucial for forming an effective co-parenting relationship.
Tips for successful co-parenting
Raising children is already hard work, so you can only imagine how much harder it becomes with joint custody. So, make it easier by planning, reaching an agreement, and keeping communications open.
Shared parenting after divorce can greatly impact the mental and emotional well-being of children, which is why the entire divorce process should be healthy and mess-free. Begin the journey of co-parenting by addressing the issue during the divorce process.
No longer husband and wife.
The relationship with your former spouse changes when you start co-parenting with your ex.
The focus of your “relationship” is now the connection you have as your kid’s other parent. It’s important to emphasize that your children hold more importance to you than the conflict that resulted in ending your marriage.
Demonstrate to your kids that your love for them will prevail through effective and persuasive dialogues with your ex. While no co-parent can give a concrete answer to what is a perfect relationship with their former partner, here are co-parenting tips that make the process uncomplicated.
1. Set co-parenting boundaries.
After being officially divorced from your partner, you’ll have to set co-parenting boundaries and ground rules to start building a new working dynamic of your family. These include keeping things businesslike and establishing conversational limits. Your ex doesn’t need to know every detail of your personal life if it doesn’t involve your children and vice versa. Setting these boundaries will help avoid future co-parenting conflicts and introduce new behavioral guidelines that both parents must follow.
2. Focus on healing yourself to prepare for co-parenting with your ex.
To become a good co-parent to your child, remember to own your role in ending your marriage and reflect back on your mistakes to move on to the next chapter of your life.
3. Create a family plan for your children along with your former partner.
Write out a document depicting the details of your family plan for your children. Create the co-parenting plan with the best interests of your kids in mind. Outline specific aspects of how much time the kids will be spending time with your co-parent, how the children’s schedule will be after the divorce, as well as how co-parenting conflicts will be resolved.
4. Don’t project your anger and resentment onto your children.
It’s almost impossible to immediately bounce back after getting a divorce—especially if your former partner was abusive. However, if you do end up getting joint custody, remember to love your child more than you hate your ex-partner. Set aside any anger, resentment, or hurt for the sake of your children and put forward their happiness, stability, and future well-being.
5. Don’t use your kids against their parents.
Nothing good ever comes out of bad-mouthing your ex-partner. Even if your former spouse was the worst to you, never insult them in front of your children. Do not vent your frustrations about your co-parent to your kids—you make them conflicted and leave the impression that they must take sides. Keep your children out of your co-parenting conflicts.
6. Don’t use them as a messenger either.
If you use your kids to pass on messages to your former spouse, you’re essentially avoiding having dialogues with your ex and putting your children in the center of your co-parenting conflict.
One of the most important co-parenting tips to keep in mind is to make your relationship with your ex-partner as peaceful as possible. No sending passive-aggressive messages, especially through your kids.
7. Create a sense of security for your children.
Remember to also allow your kids to have power in your co-parenting relationship—encourage them to take some of their things to your former partner’s house, let them know it’s okay to want to stay with them. Always assure them that both co-parents love them equally and they’re not to blame for your separation.
8. Focus on bettering your communication with your ex-spouse.
The key to having an effective co-parenting relationship is improving your communication with your ex-spouse. Calm, consistent, and calculated dialogue with your ex helps to positively impact your relationship with your kids.
Don’t forget to make your children the focus of your conversations. While it may seem impossible to be on good terms with your former spouse, your goal is to have conflict-free dialogues with your ex for the sake of your kids.
9. Make visitations and transitions easy for your children.
Being a child who frequently moves from one household to another is overwhelming. You’re saying “hello” to one parent and “goodbye” to the other. Make these transitions easier for your kids by reminding them they’ll be leaving for the other parent’s house a few days before the visit. Another useful co-parenting tip for these situations is dropping off your children instead of picking them up—you wouldn’t want to interrupt a special moment.
10. Be a flexible parent to avoid co-parenting conflicts.
While being a strict parent is necessary to establish behavioral guidelines and set agreed rules for children, it doesn’t hurt to chill out every now and then.
So what if you co-parent dropped off your kids 30 minutes late? When you compromise and let minor things slide, your former partner is more likely to become equally flexible in the future.
11. Keep in mind that fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal in co-parenting.
Since your children divide their time between co-parents, the time you spend with them is limited and precious. Sometimes, it’ll seem like your co-parent is organizing extra-curricular activities when the kids are supposed to be spending that time with you.
Learn to refrain from starting co-parenting conflicts in these situations by seeing the bigger picture—what works for you may not be in your children’s best interest. Support your kids at all times.
12. Respect your children’s time with their other parent.
Simultaneously, respect each other’s parenting time. Let your kids spend quality time with the other parent without disturbing or potentially sabotaging their time. Acknowledge your former partner’s authority to your children, whether or not you agree with every decision they make.
Successfully co-parenting after divorce is possible when both parties respect the fact that each co-parent has the best interests of the kids in every decision they make.
13. Plan regular co-parenting meetings.
Have regular check-ins with your former partner not only to form an effective co-parenting relationship but to also improve your communication with your ex-spouse. The co-parental meetings should revolve around your children’s schedule after the divorce, as well as their health and well-being.
Keep the meetings brief and to the point—take to each other with respect and listen to what you both have to say. Take notes and share them with your ex so there is no confusion on what was discussed and what was agreed to.
14. Don’t expect your co-parent to strictly follow your rules.
Although you might have a specific approach regarding raising your children, your co-parent might disagree with certain aspects of your methods. They might let them do things—not necessarily dangerous or unsafe—that you don’t normally allow them to do.
Your co-parent might let your kids stay past their bedtime or allow them to have ice cream at late night hours. Abide by the agreed rules for your children, but don’t expect to strictly follow them at all times.
15. Share your children’s photos of important events with your co-parent.
No parent wants to miss their children’s birthday, graduation, or any other important life event on purpose. However, if you or your co-parent happen to miss a certain event, do send pictures of the occasion to make them feel they’re a part of the family.
Don’t trigger co-parenting conflicts and accuse them of deliberately not attending the event. Try to understand where they’re coming from and why they can’t come to the occasion. After all, they’re also your kids’ parent and they deserve to be a part of their lives.
16. Make important family decisions with your co-parent present.
Unless your co-parent is abusing their power over your children, do not make necessary decisions regarding your kids without your ex-spouses’ input. Hold a brief discussion about the subject before meeting your co-parent to explain further.
Avoid sending one-sided emails or messages to your co-partner in these cases—words may get lost in translation in texts and emails and your effective co-parenting relationship may be compromised.
17. Establish a support system for shared parenting after divorce
Co-parenting after divorce may get overwhelming, so don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family to help you overcome these difficult times. Having joint custody with your ex-spouse can be paralyzing, but as long as you know you have a support network, moving forward becomes doable.
18. Create a fresh co-parenting plan when new partners are introduced to the family dynamic.
You can’t stick to the same co-parenting plan forever. Children grow up, you introduce new parenting methods, and eventually, new people become a part of your family. Go over the co-parenting plan with your ex-spouse to change or add new behavioral guidelines and further discuss new co-parenting boundaries.
Joint custody arrangements can be stressful when you don’t have an effective co-parenting relationship. Stress, exhaustion, and trauma might get the best of you. However, co-parenting plans can be created early on in the divorce process.
Have fruitful and productive dialogues with your ex and come up with a family plan for the children with the presence of a divorce mediator.
Make joint custody work, enable your kids to thrive, and incorporate as many co-parenting tips as you can in your everyday routine to make life after divorce effective and contented.