When a relationship ends between people who share children, they remain forever linked by those kids. It isn’t like other relationships where the contact can completely stop. Regardless of how amicably the relationship ended, the underlying reasons that separated you are not erased by the fact you are no longer together. This makes healthy co-parenting a challenge that parents must approach with real effort and thoughtfulness.
By healthy co-parents, we refer to the parents who work as a team for the betterment of their children despite their conflicts. While there is no disputing that your children deserve your best, “putting your children first” can be a whole lot easier said than done.
- It takes work for both parents to enter into a different relationship than you had before. While it may feel natural to argue and battle with one another, recognize (and appreciate) that you are no longer in an intimate relationship with your ex. It can be liberating when you know that you no longer have to answer to each other as partners.
- Consider family counseling to address parenting following your separation. Many people find counseling helpful as a safe space to discuss parenting, communication issues, parenting skills, conflict resolution, and healthy boundaries. Sometimes, the presence of an objective third party can help to interrupt your common arguments themes and patterns. If your children receive some counseling as well, then parents can gain valuable insight into their children’s needs.
- Don’t set the other parent up for failure. Avoid the urge to play games with your ex or to turn your children against them. We are all human and it can be tempting to project our resentment onto people who have wronged us. But remember that when both parents succeed as healthy parents, children thrive. While they may not ever put it into words, your children will appreciate your efforts when they are older.
- Speak to your attorney about putting provisions in your separation agreement or court order that will alleviate certain parenting issues between you and your spouse. These provisions can serve as guidelines for each parent to go by which can help extinguish disagreements.