Divorces are traumatic, painful, and messy; there are so many raw emotions to work through, but if children are involved, the most important priority for two adults is to work to make sure that their kids are well taken care of. Here are four tips to successfully co-parent following a divorce:
Create A Safe Zone
There’s communication with your ex that takes place behind the scenes, but when you’re directly interacting with him/her in front of your children, remember to act cordially and with respect. Kids are extremely perceptive to things like tone of voice, eye rolls, or other verbal and non-verbal cues. It is already a delicate situation for them, so let them see you being cordial; it will be a tremendous gift for them to see their parents interacting this way. If your feelings toward your ex are still quite volatile or intense, stick to email, texting, or communicating when the kids aren’t around.
See Your Ex as an Asset (Not an Enemy)
It’s easy to feel antagonistic toward your ex-spouse, and although your marriage relationship is no longer intact, you still need to come together as partners to successfully raise your children. Remember that no one loves your kids or is as invested as the other parent! Even if emotionally you’re not quite at the point where you’re ready to see your ex spouse as an ally, hold on to the hope that he/she can eventually help support you in parenting.
Focus on Positive Aspects
This is not an easy thing to do! There are definite reasons you got divorced, and those things are often in the forefront of your mind, but consider the strengths and gifts that your ex-spouse has that can be used toward your child(ren)’s benefits. Maybe he/she is very engaged, good at helping with homework, or very in tune with the kids’ needs. If your child can hear you speaking positively about the other parent, he/she can better adjust.
Support Your Child’s Relationship With The Other Parent
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to undermine or diminish a child’s relationship with the other parent. Maybe we feel threatened or jealous, like we’re in competition with the ex-spouse, or maybe we have a hard time letting go of our own pain and conflict. But kids desperately need a relationship with both parents (particularly after a divorce), and it’s crucial for you to do everything you can to facilitate that connection in order to help your children thrive.
If you’re struggling to co-parent after divorce contact Wasatch Family Therapy and connect with one of our amazing therapists.