When you are a parent, going through a divorce sometimes can seem overwhelmingly difficult. You likely experience a wide range of emotions – from relief, to anger, to sadness to uncertainty. You also are concerned about how your divorce will affect your child. If you want to minimize the impact of divorce on your child, you already may be committed to co-parenting well with your ex.
However, how do you do that? What can you do to establish a strong co-parenting relationship? Here are seven steps to take as you start that journey:
- Learn to set aside any hurt or anger over the divorce. This isn’t an easy task. You may need to work with a counselor to process your feelings over your divorce.
- Consider seeking divorce mediation, where you and your spouse will work together with a mediator to resolve your divorce. Divorce mediation not only can give you both more control of how you resolve your divorce and establish a custody agreement, but it can help you learn to make decisions easier together. Ultimately, that skill will strengthen your co-parenting relationship.
- Have a predetermined custody schedule, so you, your ex and even your child knows when the child will be with each parent, what holidays you will spend with your child this year versus next year, and when and how you and your ex will exchange custody of your child.
- Be willing to be flexible. Likely, you and your ex will have somewhat different rules and expectations for your child in each household. Your ex may need you to switch custody time or extend time for a vacation. Be as flexible as you can with these situations, knowing it will help build your co-parenting relationship.
- Talk to one another before need to make custody plan changes or if you need emergency backup care. Your spouse may want to have custody of your child if you will be out of town at a conference all day and rather than with a babysitter.
- Don’t bring drama to events you attend together for the sake of your child. You need to put your feelings aside and be there for your child at their sporting events, recitals or teacher conferences.
- Realize the value of your child having both their parents involved in their life. Perhaps, your child will learn to cook and bake from you and learn to fish, camp or hike from your spouse. Perhaps, your spouse will be great at helping your child with their English homework and you can help them better with math. Your child will benefit from having two people who love them and support them and help them grow as a person.
In the end, by learning to focus on your child and their needs first, you can become a better co-parent and make your relationship with your ex easier to navigate in the long run.