When your first married your ex, you likely never imagined that one day you would divorce and have the difficult task of learning how to co-parent your children. This may feel impossible at first, but with the right attitude and a lot of patience, it can be done!
The Brookings Institute and Princeton University found that “research convincingly show that children who are raised by their married, biological parents enjoy better physical, cognitive and emotional outcomes, on average, than children raised in other circumstances.”
Yes, studies show that children from a divorced household are more likely to suffer emotional, mental, and educational setbacks. With this fact in mind, the easier you make the transition into co-parenting, the better off your child will be.
Still, sharing your children with someone who betrayed you, broke your heart, or shattered your trust is one of the most challenging, frustrating things you will ever do in this life. But if you can take advantage of marriage courses, patience, and put your children first, you’ll be able to co-parent successfully.
1. Pretend You are Co-Workers
Because in a way – you are!
Co-workers come together to get something accomplished. Being cooperative doesn’t necessarily mean that they like each other or enjoy one another’s company, but they have the same goal in mind and will do anything to reach it.
Similarly, you and your ex-partner have the goal of raising your kids into happy, well-adjusted adults.
If you can’t find it within yourself to get along or form a friendship with your ex then view your relationship as strictly business. This is specifically helpful when speaking to one another.
For example, instead of making demands of your ex, make requests. Don’t say, “By the way, you’re picking up the kids Friday night” say “I have a late meeting Friday. Would you be willing to watch the kids until I’ve finished?” This is a respectful and professional way of interacting.
2. Put Personal Feelings Aside
There are naturally going to be times when the sight of your spouse or even the sound of their voice is going to dredge up hurt feelings, but things will be much easier for your whole family when you both make an effort. Neither one of you wants to hurt your children or make your separation any harder for them, so it’s important to show respect.
You want your spouse to be a wonderful parent for your child, so don’t work against it! Try and remember all of the positive parenting qualities you saw in your ex when you were together. Are they a great cook? Loves to play with the kids? Would drop anything to spend time together as a family?
Focusing on these things will be much more beneficial than honing in on their negative qualities or past mistakes.
3. Keep Communicating about Your Kids
Communication is the foundation of any good relationship – even the relationship between exes.
No matter how much or how little you like your ex, you will still need to speak to one another about your children.
You do not have to be friends, but you do need to have an open, honest dialogue about your children regularly. This will help you both keep on top of their educational, social, and emotional wellbeing and provide structure and routine to their lives.
If you and your spouse cannot be in the same room together without arguing, keep your communications digital. E-mail and text are both great methods that won’t get you too emotionally involved in your conversation.
4. Take Advantage of Marriage Courses
You may no longer be together, but that doesn’t mean you and your ex can’t take advantage of online marriage courses or personal therapy.
Part of healthy communication and structuring your child’s life post-divorce means listening and taking the time to understand their point of view on matters. Marriage courses will help you to do this.
Plus, taking an online course as ex-partners means you can do them together, separate, and most importantly, in the comfort of your own home.
Whether you choose to do a marriage course or to attend divorce therapy together, your experience will help you both learn how to communicate, empathize with one another, work through any problems you’re having, and co-parent successfully.
5. Leave Your Arguments at the Door
Not only is fighting in front of your children emotionally damaging, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. Neither you or our spouse are likely to back down from your stance, which will only lead to more frustration and less progression.
With your children caught in the crossfires of your anger, it’s important to find a way to put your disagreements aside.
Table your disagreements. If you absolutely must argue, do not do so in front of the kids. In fact, the less disparaging things you say about your partner in front of your children, the better.
6. Associate Together (if possible)
They say that time heals all wounds, and in your case, this may be the case regarding past issues between you and your ex.
If you have it in you to put the past behind you, why not institute a family night?
Just because you are no longer married or a romantic couple doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a family game night or take them on an outing together.
Not only will this help you both put the past behind you, but studies show that children greatly benefit when their parents work on their relationship. In fact, such things as family mealtime can help contribute to a child’s cognitive and linguistic developmental skills.
Co-parenting with an ex-partner isn’t easy, but it is always worth it to put your child’s welfare above your own comfort. Negotiate terms with your ex about how to raise your child, communicate maturely, and use marriage courses to your advantage. Following these steps will make your co-parenting journey much easier.
Author Bio– Rachael Pace is a noted writer currently associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of her motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying about today’s evolving forms of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on all types of romantic connections. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.