The process of separation and divorce is daunting, but it can be amicable. Perhaps the hardest part of it is embarking on the journey of co-parenting.
It’s not what you expected or hoped for, but you can make it work.
The shift of emphasis could be neatly summed up as going from making small compromises for a harmonious life to an ongoing negotiation, hurdling points of principle and, sometimes, the feeling that the other parent is getting their own way.
It’s quite the adjustment – but defining a new way of communicating with your ex and talking to your children is crucial in giving them stability and maintaining a close relationship.
Here are some pointers for successful co-parenting:
1. Put on your own oxygen mask first
This air travel analogy is particularly appropriate here. You can’t be effective in helping others – i.e. your children – unless you are in a place of security yourself. Make sure you have what you need. If this means therapy, get some professional support from a therapist who specialises in divorce.
2. Define the new co-parenting relationship
Your dealings with your partner have to transform from familiar and emotional to courteous, polite, calm and respectful. Make proposals not demands and start conversations positively by asking for your co-parent’s opinions.
3. Be flexible. Plan ahead. Be consistent
Total control is not an option. Your ex will do things differently to you. So, set aside some time to agree on some basic ‘house rules’ and shared hopes and visions, and find some consistency.
When you have agreed on a way forward, you’ll need to revisit arrangements every 6-12 months to make sure that your kids are getting the most out of them. It would also be useful to think about longer term plans too – how are things going to look in 10 or 20 years?
4. Technology is your friend
Anything minimising the possibility of miscommunication, and therefore conflict, should be embraced. Apps and communication tools, such as shared calendars, can be invaluable for time management: helping everyone to remember doctor’s appointments, piano lessons and so on.
5. Talk to your kids
Striking a balance in communicating with your children can seem challenging. If you keep things simple, age appropriate and avoid placing blame, you’re half-way there. Be truthful but not explicit (after all, your private life remains your private life) and, most importantly, listen. Giving your children your full attention while they express themselves is vital. They may not be making the final decisions, but they should know that they have been heard.
6. Have each others’ backs
Separated partners should always back each other up in front of their children, even when one of them might not understand the reason behind a decision their ex-partner has made. Children need and value consistency from both parents. Issues such as use of mobile phones, tablets and screen time generally are particularly challenging ones. Talk to each other to try and arrive at an approach that works.
7. Keep your children away from any conflict
Research shows that divorce is most damaging for children when they are caught up in conflict between their parents. If you do have disagreements or arguments, avoid discussing those with the children.
This blog post was created for the Frolo Community by amicable.
amicable offer a straightforward, cost-effective and fair service to couples who are separating or divorcing.
If you’d like to learn more about amicable and what they could do for you, head to their website where they are offering frolos an exclusive 20 minutes of free advice over the phone.