5 Essential Pieces for Successful Co-Parenting After Separation & Divorce

Co-parenting has become a much more common term in recent years, compared to the “sole custody” in which the mother has traditionally maintained full responsibility for the children.  Co-parenting has a positive effect on children because it encourages fathers to have an equal (or as equal as possible) role in their children’s lives.  It also makes it easier for working mothers to maintain full-time employment, which is often necessary to pay the bills and support the family.

To succeed in co-parenting, there has to be full co-operation from the onset of the separation or divorce. A parenting agreement should be created to ensure that all parties know what is expected of them, and how decisions will be made ongoing.

The 5 essential pieces to make co-parenting successful are:

1. Live Within Close Proximity
If there is too much distance between the mother’s and father’s residence, it will be very challenging to properly co-parent.  Both parties should be close enough to the children’s school, activities, and friends, so that it doesn’t cause disruption or added stress.

2. Efficient Scheduling
The best schedule will minimize the number of times children have to go back and forth between homes, yet still provide adequate time with each parent.  Due to job demands, one parent may have to take on more than the other parent, but the goal should be to be as equal as possible keeping the best interest of the children in mind. This also allows for each parent to maintain their own social life.  Special occasions and holidays also need to be taken into consideration.

3. Respect for Each Other’s Parenting Styles
It’s rare for people to have the exact same parenting styles, so parents have to respect each other’s decisions, whether they completely agree with them or not.  This could include discipline, food choices, bedtimes, what they can watch on television, etc.  Unless there is a serious risk to the child, parents must resist the urge to criticize the other.  If something is not appropriate, this should be discussed among the parents when the children are not around. Appear as a team.

4. Acceptance of Each Other’s New Love Interests
After a separation or divorce, even if it ended on very bad terms, it can still be hard for one to accept that their former spouse has moved on and started dating or even plan to get remarried.  Parents need to refrain from putting down the new partner in front of the kids to ensure that they don’t feel like they have to pick sides.  It can create unnecessary awkwardness and anxiety, and no one needs to be placed under more stress in an already stressful situation.

5. Solid Conflict Resolution Skills
Parents need to be able to solve issues effectively and calmly.  It is a very good idea to have a mediation clause in the separation agreement, so when a problem arises, they can have someone to help them resolve it and move on.  Being able to constructively manage disputes is often a “make it or break it” in terms of a successful co-parenting arrangement.

Do you need to talk to a mediator to assist with your co-parenting plan ? Call Rahul.  He helps clients in Vancouver, New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, and area.

 

5 Tips for Telling Kids You Are Separating or Getting a Divorce

Separation or Divorce is not easy.  What can make it even more difficult is when children are involved.  It is very common for parents to struggle as to how they are going to explain their separation / divorce to their kids.

Here are 5 tips for telling your kids that you are separating / getting a divorce:

(1.) Do not say anything until you are 100% sure you are separating. This may seem obvious, but when people get in the heat of the moment, it is easy to say things prematurely.  It can be very scary and stressful for kids to even hear the word “divorce”, and for those reasons, you don’t want to plant this seed of possibility in their minds.  Once that happens, they will be aware that divorce has crossed your mind and could have ongoing fear that it could be a possibility in the future. When you have decided that you are definitely separating, it is crucial to not say anything to your children until you and your partner have both agreed that you will tell the children.  Avoid putting your partner in the position where they could be caught off guard.

(2.) Maintain a unified front.
Discuss in detail with your partner how you are going to communicate the separation or divorce to your kids, including why you are separating, and what they can expect from the divorce.  It will ease their anxiety if they are getting the same message from both of you.  This does not necessarily mean that you agree on everything, but try your best to stay on the same page. It would also a great idea for both parents to express that the other parent will always be their parent and love them, but that you just don’t get along as a couple.

(3.) Stay away from the blame game.
This can place severe pressure on your kids to feel like they have to take sides.  Just as you wouldn’t want your partner to speak badly of you or tell your kids about your faults that may have lead up to this decision, you shouldn’t do that to them either.  It is very unhealthy for kids to feel like someone is to blame, and this can lead to a breakdown in parent-child relationships that could potentially last a lifetime.  The key is to stay neutral in your language when discussing your partner with your kids.

(4.) Ensure your children know they did not cause this. For their own well-being, kids need to be told directly that they have nothing to do with your decision to divorce.  If you avoid being clear about this, they could carry around the weight of wondering if they are to blame or if they did something wrong to cause this.  Explaining to kids that you grew apart, but that no one is to blame for this would be a good approach to take.  After all, you and your spouse know why you are divorcing.  Your children don’t need to be kept in the loop about every detail.  The less they know, the less they have to worry about.


(5.) Be clear on school and living arrangements
. Questions about school and where they are going to live are guaranteed to come up. The more specific you are about this, the more you can alleviate their stress.  However, it is key to stick to what you tell them and avoid making promises that you are not sure you will be able to keep just to appease them in the short term.

By following these tips, you can help make the painful process of divorce more emotionally comforting for your children.

In Collaborative Divorce, the goal is to reduce the negative effects of your separation or divorce on your children as much as possible. Call Rahul for a FREE 20-minute consultation to discuss why Collaborative Divorce would be a smart choice for your family.