Divorce is never easy. If adults can come to terms with it and move on, things are much more difficult for the children. Their routine is disrupted, and everything they took for granted changes.
They are faced with emotions they do not know how to cope with, and, one way or another, they need to spend time away from one of their parents.
It is the parents’ responsibility to support their children through these difficult times and make everything as easy as possible. The best way to do that is with a healthy dose of positivism in their parenting strategy.
Positive parenting is a form of parenting that focuses on caring, education, leading, and communication. The parents provide for their children’s needs consistently and unconditionally, in a non-violent, non-aggressive way.
While positive parenting has its share of obvious benefits, these are even more valuable for children affected by divorce. How can you implement it when it comes to your children in the context of a divorce? The following ten tips will surely come in handy!
10 Positive Co-Parenting Tips to Help Children after Divorce
1. Learn to See Your Ex-Spouse Only as Your Children’s Other Parent
No matter why and how your marriage ended, remember that children love both of their parents. They need to spend time and bond with both. Therefore, put your differences with your ex aside and come to terms with what happened.
Your relationship as a couple is gone, no matter if you were the one to put an end to it or you had no choice. Your relationship as parents needs to continue for your children’s sake. To allow that to happen, act responsibly, stay polite, and do your best to get along with your ex.
2. Your Children’s Interests Should Always Come First
Your children’s interests prevail over your own. They need both of their parents working together to provide the life they deserve and answer their needs, not just physical or financial but also educational and emotional. The next time you are tempted to close the door in your spouse’s face or reject their call, even if it’s justified, remember that your children need you to do the opposite.
3. Make Your Children Feel Loved, Protected, and Provide Stability
When their parents get divorced, many children blame themselves. Their life takes unexpected turns, and they start questioning everything and everyone. They feel insecure and unloved. It is your responsibility to show your children that both you and your ex love them more than life itself, and you will be there for them no matter what.
4. If You Cannot Co-Parent, Consider Parallel Parenting
Sometimes, no matter how hard parents try and how much they love their children, they simply cannot agree and co-parent. In such cases, parallel parenting usually works best. The parents disengage from one another but remain active in the life of their children.
They put together detailed parenting plans with clear instructions on how to act in different situations and they follow them to the letter. Sometimes, parallel parenting allows the parents to put their differences aside and find a way to get along for the sake of their children.
5. Stick to Your Parenting Agreement and Schedule
During the divorce, you had the chance to create a parenting plan that you are at least partially comfortable with. After the divorce, make sure you stick to it! Your children already feel lost and vulnerable. That parenting schedule lays the basis for their new routine, to their new reality.
They need to know that you live up to your promises and responsibilities no matter what, so do it! If you cannot, talk to your children and your ex and prepare them in advance. Negotiate ways to make up to them for the lost time or missed moments.
6. Don’t Badmouth Your Ex
No matter how justified your drive may be, never bad mouth your spouse or argue with them in front of your children. They love you both and hearing bad things about either of you will hurt them. Make sure your ex understands this.
7. Focus on the Positive
Both you and your children are now familiar with the negative consequences of the divorce. It would be a great time to start focusing on the positive ones. If you’re moving into a new home, it’s a chance to redecorate. If your children are changing schools, they can be anyone they wish to be.
And, although your ex has their faults, throwing in a nice word about them every now and then can work miracles. Perhaps they’re a good cook or able to make the funniest faces. Perhaps their driving skills beat yours, or their nagging comes from too much love.
8. Empathize and Nurture Empathy in Your Kids
Remember that you are not the only one affected by the divorce. Put yourself in your children and your ex-spouse’s shoes. Try to see things from their perspectives and help them see them from yours.
This will allow you all to be more patient with one another and build more realistic expectations. There are surely ways to make everything easier and work together to pursue your children’s best interests. A healthy dose of empathy on all levels could help you uncover them.
9. Play to Have Fun, Bond, and Heal
Your children need you more than ever. They also need help understanding, accepting, and dealing with their emotions. Achieving that through simple communication is difficult, especially at a young age. Games that stimulate emotional intelligence are your best allies. The newest ones allow for multiple players and various scenarios. They are easy to play, fun, and they stimulate players to describe and analyze their feelings.
10. Give Yourself a Break
You want to be perfect, to be the best parent your children could have, and congratulations are in order. But you’re only human, and humans make mistakes. Perhaps you did or said something wrong. Perhaps there was something you could have done better. One mistake doesn’t make you a bad parent and doesn’t wipe away all the good things you did.
And you have the right to occasionally feel tired and in need of a break. It is acceptable to cry, yell (not at your kids) or throw stuff when you can’t help it. Give yourself time to heal, pull yourself together, and start over.
Perhaps you’re not perfect but you’re the best parent your kids will ever have. No one will love them more than you do or care about their happiness and well being more than you. The very fact that you’re reading these lines proves it. So take a deep breath, gather your strengths, and start over! Tomorrow is another day, and now you know a little more on how to make it better than yesterday!
Amy Petrou is a content advocate at GenMindful.com, and a mother of two. In her free time you will find her writing on her blog, reading and searching for pottery and paintings to add to her growing collection. www.genmindful.com