A child’s world can feel shattered by divorce, and many parents go to great lengths to learn how to best break the news and reassure them.
It’s just as important to focus on ways to make the transition smooth for the child after the process is over and both parents are living separately. Unfortunately, anger, bitterness, jealousy, and other negative emotions often get in the way of this for former couples.
Put aside negative emotions for your kids’ sake
Parents can provide their kids a healthy perspective on divorce by practicing peaceful co-parenting. This can be a massive challenge for couples whose split was filled with its own deep pain and animosity, but it’s worth the effort for the child’s sake.
The following guidelines can help newly divorced co-parenting teams create a healthy dynamic for their kids:
- Never speak badly of your former spouse in front of the kids. This can be a major challenge when you’re frustrated by your ex’s new life choices or parenting decisions, but any frustrations must be taken up with each other in private. This avoids forcing kids to feel as though they must choose a side.
- Learn healthy co-parenting communication skills. Often times, poor communication was a factor in a divorce. Now is the time to step up and learn how to communicate in a respectful way, because co-parenting relationships almost entirely rely on good communication. A family counselor can help co-divorced parents learn that skill.
- Develop and maintain as much parenting consistency as possible. Even if you’re worlds apart in your parenting philosophies, kids need a stable, predictable environment. This might involve conceding to differences between the two households. This can be difficult, but it’s for the sake of the kids.
- Collaborate on important decisions. Unless there are court orders that state otherwise, both parents should discuss major decisions before making them. Learn to negotiate and come to a mutual agreement about school, health, and financial decisions that can have impact on everyone down the road.
- Develop a reliable schedule that centers around the kids’ needs. Kids who constantly go back and forth between two parents’ homes need consistency. Schedules can look different for every family, but in many cases, the best arrangement is for one parent to be the designated home base for weekdays and the other to have weekend visits to avoid disrupting school. Again, this may require enormous compromise.
As difficult as it might seem to get along after a divorce, the benefits of creating a healthy environment for your child outweigh the discomfort and frustrations you might feel throughout your co-parenting journey. Eventually, it might even get easier for you both.