Though the pain and anger left over from a divorce can be strong, putting both aside when kids are involved can be to everyone’s advantage. A new type of relationship must be forged in order to raise the children well in two homes. While it may be a difficult task, if done well, it can greatly impact the kids. Here are a few approaches to successful co-parenting.
Split up is often an indication that the couple did not have very good problem-solving abilities, but these abilities are invaluable to being co-parents. There will always be disputes, from diet to bed times to discipline. In order to make co-parenting work, you need to be able to solve problems and come up with solutions.
It is also important to know which things are worth fighting for. Whether or not the child goes to private school, for example, may be something worth fighting for. Whether or not they get dessert after lunch and dinner, or just dinner, might not be.
A good way to help avoid conflicts is to plan things in advance. This can help avoid conflicting schedules and make sure that everyone has a good idea of what is going on. Often a certain amount of pre-planning happens during a divorce, but it is usually helpful to plan things more specifically than has been laid down by the courts.
Plans may also need to change over time, though sometimes you may need the court to approve. If you can agree on revisions to the plan with your co-parent beforehand, requesting the change with the court will be easier.
In order to solve problems and plan, you need to be able to communicate. Sometimes in-person and over the phone conversations has a tendency to turn into an argument, so a text-based method of communication might be more effective. Texts, emails, or even co-parenting tools work well for this, but there are times when professional help from a counselor or mediator is really needed. You can use the skills you learned from these professionals and implement them with future discussions with your co-parent. Try to avoid arguments as much as possible, and instead, aim for discussions. If an argument must be had, do it away from the children. The goal is to provide the best environment possible for them, not to “win” or hurt your ex. Choose your battles and words carefully.