Splitting up a family is not a decision made lightly. Divorce has overwhelming repercussions on everyone, especially children.
Parents can help children adjust by drafting a parenting plan and schedule that puts the children first. While this may seem impossible at first, over time, things can get easier. Consider these four suggestions for making co-parenting more successful.
1. Resist the urge to say negative things
You may have negative feelings towards your ex. Children hear more than you think, and if they know how you feel about their other parent, it may start to affect they feel about themselves. They may feel like you are attacking them because they are half you, half your ex.
2. Communicate effectively with your ex
You and your ex may have gone through a high-conflict divorce, making it impossible to speak without fighting. If you cannot communicate with your ex, your co-parenting will fail. Decide to send emails or text messages instead of calling. Use an online shared calendar for the schedule. These tools may decrease animosity between you.
3. Make sure the parenting plan is achievable
Creating a schedule you cannot adhere to does nothing to help your children. You may want to get them from school at 3:30 every day, but does your work schedule allow for that? Make sure the visitation and custody schedules are doable for both parties. Keeping kids waiting or changing things week to week creates a sense of uneasiness in them.
4. Change the plan as your kids grow
You may not like the idea of your children getting older, but it is going to happen no matter what. As kids age, so do their activities and interests. Sticking to a rigid schedule hashed out when the kids were in daycare may not work when they are in middle school and have their own friends and personal schedules after school. Consider modifying the plan as your children naturally progress.
Co-parenting with an ex is possible if you remember that it is about your children and not you. Keeping this in mind should help you make more rational decisions along the way.