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18 Tips For Successful Co-Parenting

18 Tips For Successful Co-Parenting

 

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.

In unsure times like these, it’s crucial to make your children feel safe and secure. Do your best to put them first, even if it requires involving mediation in the divorce proceedings.

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.

 

The post 18 Tips For Successful Co-Parenting appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Woman talking to angry ex on the phone who needs to establish boundaries in their co-parenting communication

Co-parenting Communication Tips

Getting along with your ex isn’t always easy, but these tips on setting boundaries can make discussions about your child(ren) less stressful.

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4 Tips for Keeping Your Family Intact During the Coronavirus

4 Tips for Keeping Your Family Intact During the Coronavirus

Every unhappy family may be unique, but right now, a lot of families are unhappy in a similar way for similar reasons. Here are tips for keeping your family intact during the Coronavirus.

The post 4 Tips for Keeping Your Family Intact During the Coronavirus appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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your teen cope with divorce: sad teen girl on couch with dog

7 Tips to Help Your Teen Cope with Divorce

your teen cope with divorce: sad teen girl on couch with dog

 

The teenage years can be challenging for both a teenager and his or her parents after a divorce. Helping your teenager to make a smooth transition to becoming a more independent person can be complex in a divorced family.

Some of the challenges that teens face in divorced families include: going back and forth between two homes, different rules in each house, loyalty conflicts with their parents, moving, dealing with parents dating just as they’re exploring intimate relationships; and possibly adjusting to one or both parents’ remarriage and stepsiblings.

Experts advise us that adolescence is a time of transition from being a child to establishing an identity different from your parents. This normal process can become more complicated as teens experience the breakup up their parents’ marriage. Although it may take them about a year to adjust to your divorce, feelings of sadness or anger may reappear during stressful times such as taking exams or a parents’ remarriage – even if they’re coping fairly well overall.

Some warning signs that your teen is having difficulty coping with your divorce include displaying intense mood swings that range from extreme elation to extreme hostility toward others that last more than a few days. Also, they might rage towards others and overreact to triggers in their environment. This could be anything from temper tantrums (especially in public) to becoming exceedingly angry or irritable over small things.

Other warning signs of depression or psychological problems include radical changes in behavior such as fighting at school, cheating, stealing, lying, or intense arguments with others (teachers, friends; or you or their other parent), declining school performance for over a period of a few weeks, developing physical ailments or chronic complaints (such as stomach or headaches), sleep problems, eating disorders (or gaining or losing more than ten pounds when not trying to), changes in peer relationships such as losing friends or isolating themselves from social activities, and sadness that lasts more than a few days.

During and after divorce, it’s crucial that both parents promote a healthy bond with their teenager in order to nurture high self-esteem and resiliency. Showing your teen compassion and understanding won’t guarantee success every day but they’ll feel less stressed as a result. Be sure to establish an open dialogue with your teen so they can discuss the stresses in their life and brainstorm solutions with you.

7 tips to help your teen cope with divorce:

  • Be an active listener when your teen wants to talk. When kids feel valued by their parents, they will value them in return. Teenagers are under a lot of stress at school and in peer relationships so need you to be available to listen. Turn off your cell phone when you’re with him or her. If you must take a call, keep it short and apologize if it interfered with your time together.
  • Don’t bad mouth or argue with your ex in front of your teen. Model self-control and being polite with your former spouse. Negative comments about his/her other parent are likely to cause teens to experience loyalty conflicts – which can lead to emotional pain and turmoil.
  • Avoid putting your teen in the middle between you and your ex. Be careful not to share too many details about your divorce with your teenager. Don’t grill them with questions about the other parent!
  • Promote a healthy bond between your teen and both parents. It’s important to be flexible with your expectations about scheduling “Parenting Time” at both houses (if this is possible). Keep in mind that a teen needs some control over his or her schedule.
  • Be a positive role-model by taking care of your own mental and physical health. Go to the gym or take a power walk and invite your teen to join you. Seek out supportive friendships and counseling if needed so you can stay optimistic about your future.
  • Set limits with love. Many parents complain that their teens are rarely home once they begin to drive or work. Remember you are the parent and need to set a positive tone for your household, including having expectations for behavior, curfew, etc..
  • Be aware of warning signs of depression and seek professional help if needed. Adolescence is often a time of turmoil which is exaggerated by the multitude of changes that go along with parental divorce. If any of the warning signs detailed above persist for more than a few weeks, you are wise to seek professional help.

Ways to promote your teenager’s resiliency include expressing empathy, understanding, and support when they’re going through a challenging time. For instance, Haley noticed changes in her daughter Alana’s behavior when she was fourteen, after her remarriage.  Alana showed signs of depression such as sleep problems, complaints of chronic physical symptoms, and avoiding contact with her friends. She also began protesting spending overnights at her dad’s house.

Fortunately, Alana’s parents agreed that it was in her best interests to revise her custody schedule temporarily and to seek counseling for her. As a result, Alana attended counseling for six months and was able to come to terms with the losses she experienced when her parents divorced – eventually restoring a better sleep routine, improving her social life, and spending overnights at her dad’s home.

Experts agree that friends, school, extracurricular activities, and jobs are all crucial to a teen’s well-being. Being flexible in your parenting schedule allows your teenager to enjoy the things that are essential for his or her life. Operating from a mind-set that your teen needs balance in their life will serve as a protective factor during the whirlwind of adolescence. Your teen might end up feeling disappointed or resentful if you try to get them to adhere to your expectations or you’re rigid.

Why is it that some teenagers seem to make it through their parents’ divorce relatively easily, while others struggle and are more likely to have a negative reaction?  The reasons for these differences include the child’s personality and temperament, gender, parenting styles, and a families’ post-divorce adjustment. Keep in mind that some teens, especially girls, don’t show outward signs of trouble until years later. Many experts refer to this tendency as the “Sleeper Effect.”

The good news is that if you’ve built a healthy foundation with your teen prior to your divorce, it’s likely that they’ll be resilient and adjust to your divorce. When you take time to truly listen to your teenager, they’ll be more likely to ask your advice when they have a problem. Divorce expert Rosalind Sedacca CCT writes: “How you handle this now will affect your long-term relationship with her. So don’t stand on your soap-box. Show her your empathy, compassion, and the ability to turn the other cheek.”

Finally, finding time in your busy schedule to listen to their concerns and engage in mutually enjoyable activities can help ease their adjustment to your divorce. Making an attempt to stay connected with your teen is worth the effort!

Terry Gaspard on FacebookTwitter, and movingpastdivorce.com

More from Terry

6 Ways to Mend Trust After Divorce

Building Resiliency in Children After Divorce

This blog appeared previously on movingpastdivorce.com

The post 7 Tips to Help Your Teen Cope with Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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12 Tips for Staying Centered And Calm During The COVID-19 Crisis

12 Tips for Staying Centered And Calm During The COVID-19 Crisis

If you follow these 12 tips, you will feel more calm, focused, and aligned. With kindness, flexibility, and mindfulness, we can get through this!

The post 12 Tips for Staying Centered And Calm During The COVID-19 Crisis appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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4 Tips for Co-Parenting During COVID-19

4 Tips for Co-Parenting During COVID-19

During this time, I remind my children (and myself) that during a crisis- more so than at any other time- we are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

The post 4 Tips for Co-Parenting During COVID-19 appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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narcissist

How to Handle a Narcissist: My Top 3 Tips For Keeping Your Cool

narcissist

 

Each one of us has had to deal with a narcissist at some point or another.  Whether it was an ex, a boss, or a family member, dealing with a narcissist can be challenging and exhausting as all hell!

I get asked a lot, “How do I deal with someone that has to win at all costs?” Well, this is the million-dollar question in high conflict divorce cases.

Narcissists have this remarkable ability to make you feel like you are the crazy one like you are wrong for thinking the way you think, and for feeling the way you feel. It’s as if they have this superpower, a gift that plants doubt inside you that makes you second guess your choices.

How do they do it?!

Let me first paint a picture of who you are dealing with here. These are some common characteristics that define a narcissist.:

  • Narcissists are ego-driven (meaning everything they do is to feed their ego)
  • The need to win is a top priority
  • They have to be right at all costs
  • They need to be superior
  • Their worth is tied to their achievements
  • They need to control others in order to support the outcome they desire. They need to be seen as “the good guy/girl”
  • They don’t think the rules apply to them
  • They think they know more about the law than their own lawyer

Do any of these ring true? If so, you may be dealing with a narcissist.

Here are my tips on how to handle a narcissist:

Don’t fight back!

You already know that you will never win, and you will never get them to empathize with your point of view.  So why do you keep fighting it? If they say the sky is red, then let it be red.  Narcissists thrive on anyone that supplies them with the drugs they need, and that drug is “being right.”  You will keep spinning in the hamster wheel of getting nowhere with someone that will never say to you, “You know what Amy, you are right, I didn’t see things your way.” And continuing to fight will only mirror more of what you don’t want, which is a narcissist in your face.

Let go of any expectations.

What do I mean by this? I realize some of you have no choice but to deal with a narcissist, so going radio silent on them may not be a viable option.  If you have no choice other than to deal with this person, then having expectations will be the death of your sanity. Hopes that they will do the right thing, that they care about your best interest (or the interest of anyone other than themselves for that matter), or that they can carry a conversation that doesn’t have their own selfish needs at the top of their mind–IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!

Remember who you are and what you value.

It’s easy to get sucked into a vicious cycle of crazy when you are dealing with a narcissist. You feel like you are continually having to defend yourself and prove yourself to everyone.  You may continuously be defending who you are as a mother, as a partner, and as a daughter and friend.

Why are you defending yourself? Because a part of you may be feeling that they are right, or that you need to prove your self-worth.  You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.  You are worthy just as you are, and anyone that doesn’t see it, well, they don’t belong in your life.

You need to remember what it is you value.  Do you value peace and harmony? Do you value love and acceptance? Do you value REAL connection? If so, then put the gloves down, and understand that nobody can take your self-worth away.

If what you fight against you get more of, then getting in the rink with a narcissist will only get you more blows to the face. Narcissists need people to inflate their egos, so if you cut the supply, they will find another victim to feed on.  Take the path of least resistance, and surround yourself with people that love and support you, with people that know your worth.

If you find yourself in what feels like an impossible situation with a narcissist, please take advantage of a complimentary session with me.  I would love to see how I may help you navigate through this challenging situation.

Here is the link:  mailchi.mp/efa3cb1f474d/complimentary-session

The post How to Handle a Narcissist: My Top 3 Tips For Keeping Your Cool appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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5 Helpful Tips for Coping with Divorce

5 Helpful Tips for Coping with Divorce

When dealing with a divorce, everyone’s needs are different. But it is important to know that each step you take to help cope with the complex emotions and situations counts.

The post 5 Helpful Tips for Coping with Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Helpful Tips If You’re a New Homeowner After Divorce

Helpful Tips If You’re a New Homeowner After Divorce

If you’re thinking of becoming a new homeowner after divorce, you may find yourself a little bit overwhelmed.

The post Helpful Tips If You’re a New Homeowner After Divorce appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

remarriage manualUNDERSTANDING YOUR STEPCHILD

Victoria was about 10 years old when her father, Ryan, married Lisa. In her view, she had little control over the events unfolding in her life, including her mother remarrying and starting a new family quickly.

Even though Lisa seemed nice enough and obviously really loved her dad, it still didn’t seem fair to Victoria that her life had to change so radically. When she met me for an interview, she was eager to share her perspectives as a stepchild.

In her mind, nothing would ever be the same after her parents’ split and she believes that parents ought to be more understanding about the stepchild’s plight.

Victoria reflects, “I wrote on my closet door, ‘January 18 was the worst day of my life’ — the day of my parents’ divorce. For me, divorce meant changes in where I lived, changes at school and with friends and having to spend time with new adults I didn’t particularly want to spend time with.

No one asked me if I wanted any of those things to happen, but they did, without my consent, and sometimes without warning.”

During our in-depth interview, Victoria speaks with anguish about both of her parents getting remarried around the same time. She explains, “I had a teacher tell me that if I loved my parents, I would accept their significant others because I’d want them to be happy. Inside I was screaming, ‘What about my happiness?’”

These are hard issues, and there are no easy fixes, but following these tips can help you weather the rough times and be a supportive stepparent.

8Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily

  1. Proceed slowly. Take your time getting to know your stepchild. If you rush the relationship, it may satisfy your own unmet needs to be liked, but your approach could backfire. It’s important to realize that you’re not replacing your stepchild’s other parent; your role is more of a mentor. Never make your stepchild feel as if they have to choose between their biological parent and you. Over time, everyone in the recoupled family can create a positive culture together.
  2. Respect your spouse’s relationship with your stepchild. And don’t feel threatened by their close connection. Your partner will want to spend special time with their child, so try not to feel neglected by them. Make plans with your friends or with your own kids and graciously step out of their way.
  3. Develop a relationship with your stepchild through daily activities, hobbies, and shared interests to create positive memories. Strive to engage in activities as a family unit as much as possible so everyone has an opportunity to make a connection. Sharing interests in sports or the arts can help you develop a bond. Spending time together, even if it’s eating a meal or watching a movie, can help weave the fabric of stronger stepfamily relationships.
  4. Understand your stepchild’s view and have realistic expectations. First, it’s a given that your stepchild had a relationship with your spouse that existed before you came on the scene. They’re likely to see you as a rival to both of their parents. Even if your stepchild seems to like you well enough, they will sometimes prefer you weren’t in the picture and may express this by ignoring you or being indifferent or rude. Your remarriage effectively ends any hope of their mother and father reunifying and can reignite feelings of loss for your stepchild.
  5. Be sure to discuss roles and feelings about parenting with your spouse. Sometimes a biological parent may not understand a stepparent’s feelings of rejection. They may need you to tell them what they can do to support you. On the other hand, a biological parent may feel criticized and get defensive when their spouse offers unsolicited advice about parenting. Blending your sometimes-opposing styles of parenting and focusing on what you have in common will benefit all family members.
  6. Be courteous and respectful of your child’s and stepchild’s “other parent.” Keep in mind that it is likely that they would not have chosen to have their children live with them part-time. Stepparents need to stay out of interactions between biological parents working out holiday or vacation schedules, and biological parents need to be collaborative when planning family events.
  7. Realize that love often comes later. Even if you don’t hit it off with your stepchild, you can still develop a working relationship built on respect. If your stepchild does not warm up to you right away, that does not mean you have failed. Adopting realistic expectations can help you get through some rough spots. Be patient and try not to react with anger if your stepchild gives you the cold shoulder or is a little impolite sometimes.
  8. Cooperate with your partner, and talk, talk, talk. Most of the talking will take place away from your children or stepchildren, but be sure to have cordial conversations and informal discussions about family rules, roles, chores, and routines with the kids.

TERRY GASPARDMSW, LICSW is a licensed therapist and author. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TheGoodMenProject, The Gottman Institute Blog, and Marriage.com. Her new book, out now, is THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around.

Follow Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com.

Excerpted from THE REMARRIAGE MANUAL by Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW. Credit Terry Gaspard. Reprinted with permission of Sounds True. All rights reserved.

The post 8 Tips to Bond with Your Stepchild and Create Positive Memories as a Stepfamily appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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