When you’re a parent going through a divorce, your primary concern is your kids – their well-being, adjustment and ability to cope are what’s most important to you.
One way to help your kids deal with divorce is to co-parent with your soon-to-be ex-spouse… but what, exactly, does that mean, and what does it require you each to do?
What is Co-Parenting?
Experts say that kids can bounce back from a parental break-up and become more resilient and able to deal with life’s hurdles as a result – and there are plenty of ways you can help your own children through divorce.
In co-parenting, you and your ex still work together to parent your kids. You’re no longer romantically involved, but that doesn’t stop both of you from being involved in raising your kids… or from doing it together. The key idea behind co-parenting is to create a stable and consistent childhood for your kids, and it does that by:
- Limiting “parentification.” This lifts the child’s burden of feeling like he or she needs to take care of his or her parents’ feelings.
- Maintaining solid relationships with both parents.
- Limiting the child’s feeling of being on one parent’s “side.”
- Teaching conflict resolution.
How to Make Co-Parenting Work
First things first: You and your ex need to put aside your differences, if only for your kids. You don’t have to agree to anything but raising happy, healthy children.
You may want to enlist a mediator’s help if you’re having a tough time co-parenting with your spouse. You can do it without a mediator, too, although some parents find that having an impartial third party helping them hammer out the details is incredibly helpful.
Co-parenting requires you and your ex to:
- Communicate regularly (and politely)
- Make decisions together
- Share your schedules so you can time things best for the kids
You and your ex will have to decide:
- How to handle discipline between your two homes. Consistency is the key here!
- Who’s going to make which decisions.
- How you’re going to communicate about your children, whether it’s in-person, on the phone, or by email (and if your ex isn’t always reliable, putting everything in email can be extremely helpful).
- How you’ll handle last-minute scheduling changes.
- What you’ll do when emergencies arise (for you, your ex, or your children).
- How you’ll manage extra expenses that child support doesn’t cover.
When Co-Parenting Doesn’t (or is Unlikely to) Work
If your ex is emotionally or physically abusive, co-parenting may not be the best solution for your family right now. If you’re not both invested in co-parenting, it’s not going to work either – so you can save yourselves a lot of trouble by nailing down a parenting time agreement and sticking to it rather than attempting to work (and remain flexible) together.
Do You Need to Talk to a Stockton Divorce Attorney?
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed for a divorce, we can help you.