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Co-Parenting After Divorce: Julie Hanks on Studio 5

Cooperation and communication between divorced parents are crucial to a child’s well-being. It’s often difficult for ex-spouses to transition from intimate partners to “business partners”. You are both in the business of successfully raising your child or children together.

1) Nurture your child’s relationship with other parent

You don’t need to be friends with your ex-spouse, but you do need to be a friend to your child’s relationship with them. Regardless of your feelings toward your ex-spouse, it is in your child’s best interest to support and nurture their relationship with your co-parent. Your feelings or opinions toward your ex are none of your child’s business. The only exception to this is if you believe your child is in danger of being neglected, abused, or harmed.

2) Communicate openly and respectfully with co-parent

Share all information about your children with your ex-spouse immediately and communicate in a manner that is respectful and conflict-free. Many experts refer to it as a “business like” relationship. Do not rely on your child to be the messenger with your co-parent. Our Family Wizard is a great online resource for divorced families designed to facilitate open sharing of information, schedules, school information, health information, and shared expenses, in a straightforward way.

3) Create a “child safety zone”

There are roughly 10,000 minutes in one week. Children of divorce see and hear their parents directly interacting together for about 4 minutes per week. Is it too much to ask for those 4 minutes to be calm, cordial, and peaceful? Make those drop off and pick up times, and family events respectful. Think of it as a gift to your child.

4) View your co-parent is an asset, not an enemy

Your child’s other parent is your best ally in parenting. Ask for support in parenting decisions and maintain consistency from household to household while respecting separate parenting styles. The presence of both parents in a child’s life is invaluable. Both of you are likely to be the two people most committed to your child’s growth, development, and happiness.

5) Celebrate the positive

Even though your ex-spouse has flaws and shortcomings, focus on his or her strengths. Speak often of those strengths to your child, and celebrate the activities they do together. When you put down your child’s other parent, it feels like a personal put down to your child.

References and Resources

Quick Help For Families In Transition (.doc)

Children’s Bill Of Rights in Divorce

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