By Jenna Adams
The word ‘divorce’ isn’t something that any married person would like to hear coming out of their spouse’s mouth. However, divorces do happen and can leave a person heartbroken, angry, and even depressed. In short, it is a testing ordeal, which is why most married couples try every trick in the book to repair their marriage before filing for divorce.
If you’re a married couple with kids, the impact of a bitter divorce can be long-term or even permanent. This is why parents need to schedule time with their children in a way that spares the kids the stresses of divorce-related clashes and disagreements.
Some negative effects of a high-conflict divorce on children include trust establishment issues, behavioral problems, attention and focus deficiencies, and coping problems. These problems can heighten with time and lead to complex issues such as a damaged concept of self, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or spiritual misperception.
When co-parenting is done effectively, both parents can play an active and a healthy role in their children’s lives, and ensure that kids receive time and attention from both. The quality of co-parenting also impacts the mental and emotional health of the children.
Benefits of Co-Parenting Effectively after Divorce for Children
When kids see that their divorced parents are choosing to co-parent harmoniously, they realize that they are more important to them than their differences. This way they know that they’re loved and cherished by both parents. Co-parenting offers several more benefits for children, such as:
Security: When kids feel assured of their parents’ love for them, they find it easier to adjust to their new living situation following the divorce and feel secure, which leads to better self-esteem.
Consistency: When co-parenting, both parents set similar rules for discipline and rewards. Kids, therefore, know what they’re expected to do and what they should expect from the parents.
Problem-solving abilities: When kids see their parents working together continually, they imbibe this quality and learn to solve problems by themselves. They also learn to co-operate with others in order to build and maintain healthy relationships.
Better mental and emotional health: Because the children aren’t exposed to parental conflicts, they are less likely to develop mental health and emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.
Tips For Co-Parenting Effectively after Divorce
Here’s how you can co-parent effectively by keeping the best interest of your children at the forefront:
1. Learn to Work with Your Ex-Spouse
It is not necessary to be fond of your ex-spouse to be successful at co-parenting. However, you will have to find a way to work with them for the sake of your children. If you don’t like your ex, change your perspective and think of them as a difficult colleague you have to work with to complete a project.
There will be times when you will have to make certain big decisions about your children’s future and meet them face-to-face. Don’t dodge such meetings. Keep your children in mind and remind yourself of the bigger purpose and you will find the strength to work with your ex.
2. Refrain from Lashing out at Your Ex-Spouse
So your ex did something that has distressed you! Your first instinct will probably be to lash out at them on the phone or through texts but avoid doing so at all costs. This holds especially true if your children are with you.
Bad-mouthing and criticizing won’t change your ex’s behavior in any way. In fact, it may cause your relationship with them to strain further. Kind words, on the other hand, can go a long way in improving your relationship. Sincere praise for their parenting skills or the effort they’re putting in can heal past wounds and enable you to co-parent amicably. Try to speak positively about your ex in front of your kids.
3. Work Through Money Matters
Money matters often give rise to tension among divorcing couples. Parents can differ on subjects such as child support, alimony, and other financial issues. Such problems can be especially troublesome if one parent has limited funds and is stuck with an unfriendly ex. Even small matters such as what toys and clothes are to be brought to the other parent’s house can lead to acrimony.
It is important to not let your children feel guilty about not bringing things back. Regardless of the issue at hand, your children should not feel like they’re causing the problems between you and your ex.
Recognize that you can control only what happens at your house. One way to deal with issues caused by losing new clothes is to wash the clothes you receive your children in, and dress them in the same clothes when they go back to your ex’s house. This way, the clothes stay intact and you need not worry about losing them.
4. Make the Transition Easier
Making the move from one house to another, regardless of the frequency, can be hard on children. When they reunite with one parent, it means they have to say goodbye to the other. Handle these transitions well to make things easier for them.
When it’s time for your kids to go to your ex’s place, be positive and punctual in dropping them off. Prepare your kids for the transition by reminding them about leaving for the other parent’s place a couple of days beforehand. Start packing in advance so no item is missed out. As far as possible, drop off your children at your ex’s house rather than pick them up to avoid the feeling of you “taking them away” from them.
When it’s time for your kids to return to your home, take things easy and keep them low key. Give them some time and space to adjust to the transition. To make packing and unpacking more convenient for them, keep essentials such as toothbrush and pajamas at both houses. Kids love routine as it brings in the element of predictability. You can use this to your advantage by playing a game or cooking the same favorite meal each time your children come over.
Managing children after a divorce is tough, more so if the parents have separated spitefully. However, it is in the children’s best interest that both parents co-operate with each other as far as possible for successful co-parenting. At the end of the day, it is the children’s overall well-being that matters the most. With a little patience and some compromise, you will be able to make this possible. The above tips should help you and your ex raise well-balanced children even amidst the storm that is your divorce.
Jenna Adams is a certified divorce coach by profession. She is associated with Peskind Law Firm, a St. Charles divorce law agency offering family and divorce law services to the folks of Illinois. She specializes in everything when things come to divorce and beyond that. She helps people with setting up post-divorce goals to bring about improvements in their overall life.