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.
Most divorcing parents are greatly concerned about how their child will take the big change. Many expect sadness and worry but do not always feel equipped to help the child cope. Understandably, it is hard for moms and dads to offer ample emotional support to their child if they feel overburdened themselves. Parents are typically overwhelmed with grief, anger, financial concerns, residence changes, custody arrangements, and co-parenting issues, to name a few. Yet children cannot put their needs on hold until parents have fully adjusted. So in the meantime, something simple, like sharing a carefully selected book together, may offer some connection and understanding the child needs for that day. The following children’s books have been valuable in my work with child-clients, so I share them hoping they can help others too:
“The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst (Ages 3+)
Children whose parents divorce typically experience repeated separations from one or both parents. This versatile book reassures children they can still feel connected even during times apart.
“People who love each other are always connected by a very special string, made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it deep in your heart, and know that you are always connected to the ones you love” (The Invisible String by Patrice Karst).
:Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen (Ages 8+)
When a couple divorces, all family members usually experience grief to some degree. This book tells the story of a woman who makes “tear soup” after she suffers a great loss. She shares some essential ingredients of the healing recipe: feel the pain of loss, accept that it takes time, and recognize that grief is different for everyone.
If your child experiences distress due to parental divorce, call to schedule an appointment with Melissa at Wasatch Family Therapy – 801.944.4555.
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.