The impact of divorce on children and the importance of co-parenting after divorce are widely discussed. Unlike the parents who decided on their divorce, children caught in the middle usually feel like their world has just been turned upside down.
In a study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2019, of 130 territories and countries, the highest percentage of children living in single-parent households was recorded in the United States, with 23% of children living with one adult. Unfortunately, this percentage has been growing for years. In fact, 23% is more than three times higher than the percentage of children worldwide who live in single-parent households.
This is an important issue to underline because it’s well-known that children who grow up in single-parent households face socioeconomic challenges, increasing the risk of poverty later in life. Thus, parents nowadays often turn to co-parenting after divorce.
Parents going through a divorce are often told what to do or what not to do with their children instead of learning how to do it. Of course, parents going through a divorce will automatically try to mediate the dispute the best they can and leave it at that. Instead, divorcing parents should seek guidance on what to do after the divorce that will work for everyone involved. Below are some helpful co-parenting tips to help you ease your children into the new normal.
Tips for Effective Co-Parenting After Divorce
Co-parenting is a non-intimate relationship between two adults whose main focus is the child or children. Another relevant evolutionary biology term for this is biparental care, where both parents equally invest in their offspring.
Having said that, co-parenting is not always easy, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, here are some general guidelines to help you navigate through these tough times with your child’s best interests at heart.
1. Be Open About Divorce
Children don’t usually get a say in their parents’ decision to get a divorce. However, this doesn’t mean that they should be kept in the dark. After all, their life will never be the same again. The more you hide it from them, the more they will feel like it’s their fault. Your children usually sense when something is wrong, so it’s always best to provide reassurance and create a safe space for communication.
Don’t be afraid when feelings get involved. As a matter of fact, it’s good to let your children express how they feel so that you know exactly what they are going through. Acknowledging your children’s feelings will make them feel safe and appreciated, enabling all of you to move forward. Doing this will also prevent your children from feeling abandoned or neglected.
2. Don’t Involve Children in Your Struggles
Even though it’s important to talk about the divorce, your children should be protected from all the struggles you might face during or after the divorce. Never vent to your children just because you have problems you are unable to solve at the moment. They might process information differently, affecting them in the long run. It’s one thing to be open about the family situation, but it’s a completely different story if you overburden your children with something they can’t handle.
3. Maintain Continuity
To add to your children’s continuity and stability in their lives, it’s also crucial to help them nourish their existing relationships with relatives and friends. If they sense too much is changing around them, your children could easily feel alone and overwhelmed.
4. Always Be There for Your Children
Your children have gone through a physical, emotional, and mental ordeal. Therefore, it’s important to be there for them whenever they need it. Even if they tend to lash out, they probably do it for attention, and it will only worsen if they feel ignored or neglected. Quality time is important to prevent any negative feelings. It’s not sufficient to spend one day a week together or have a set schedule for quality time, but it should be an ongoing effort. Get involved in your children’s day-to-day activities without being overbearing.
5. Support Each Other
Both parents play an equally important role in co-parenting after divorce, so it’s important to give each other maximum support and communicate openly. There will be many important decisions for you to make together, such as their school, extracurricular activities, and, most importantly, their well-being. Typically, if one co-parent starts becoming difficult, it affects everyone involved as it puts the other co-parent under stress for having to overcompensate for their ex-partner’s unwillingness to participate.
The best way to keep everything running smoothly for the children is to stick to your co-parenting schedule and be flexible enough to accommodate each other should anything come up. Most importantly, be open to communicate whatever feelings and address any problem before it gets out of hand.
6. Treat Each Other with Respect
Even though you’re only staying in contact for your children’s sake, you should still be respectful of each other, especially in front of the kids. This includes the way you talk and act with each other in front of them and what you say about each other when the other parent is not around. Your children might not say anything, but if they witness any conflict between parents, they might have a lot of unresolved feelings bottled up inside.
7. Seek Help
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. You can turn to friends and family members for advice, talk to a professional, or attend co-parenting or anger management classes. No matter what you’re going through that seems hard to cope with, it’s important to seek help — there’s no shame in that. By helping yourself and learning how to deal with negative feelings, you will be a more stable parent capable of providing emotional support to your children.
8. Take Care of Yourself
It’s of utmost importance to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Remember, there’s no one who can take care of your children better than you, so you should always be in the best possible physical and emotional shape possible and be mindful of your priorities: your children’s health and happiness.
It takes two to tango. If one parent starts slacking off, the other parent may have difficulty picking up the slack. Keep in mind that even a good divorce is a traumatic experience for a child; how well the parents handle it will largely determine just how traumatic it will be for their children. Even though you might also feel lost or sad, remember that your children need your support. It helps greatly if you are physically healthy and mentally strong to deal with the situation. Exercise and a balanced diet will improve your physical health while having a friend or a family member by your side will enable you to vent and get a fresh perspective on your situation.
Put the Children’s Well-Being First
Co-parenting after divorce involves making a lot of decisions with your ex, whether you have a good relationship with each other or not. Overall, as long as you put your children’s well-being first without arguing over every decision (no matter how small or insignificant it may be), things should work out for the best. Remember that the key to a “seamless” transition to the new situation is nurturing as many relationships that are important to your children as possible.
A lot of things will never be the same, but do your best not to deviate from the norm too much. At the same time, always protect your children from any parental conflict as they shouldn’t carry the burden of a failed marriage. Open communication is also essential, and it entails communicating freely with your children and your ex-spouse.
Filip Nikoloski has a Master’s Degree In International Business, Trade, and Corporate Law. Devoted to his work, he always delivers impeccable and well-researched content. Apart from that, he is a huge sports and electronic music enthusiast. www.whydoeseverythingsuck.net