Parenting After Divorce: 10 Ways To Make Shared Parenting Work
There's a lot of issues at play when you divorce or separate from your partner, but one of the biggest issues to resolve is how you'll both care for your children. Divorce can be especially hard on your children, but there are ways to reduce their pain during this trying experience. Here are 10 tips for making shared parenting work after divorce and minimize the negative effects on children.
1. Work Together With Your Partner
Put your own feelings aside in order to work together with your co-parent. Create a parenting plan that you can both feel good about and agree that it suits your children. It's important to show your children that although you're no longer together, you both have their best interests at heart. Come to an agreement as soon as you can with your co-parent, and stick to the plan going forward.
2. Watch How You Talk About Your Co-Parent
You may no longer love your co-parent, but remember that your children still do. You need to be careful never to talk negatively about your co-parent when your children are around. Try your hardest to be neutral about him or her, no matter how you feel. This goes for social media too, as your children can often find what you're saying online.
3. Don't Use Your Children
Once you're separated, it's very tempting to ask your child what your co-parent is up to or ask them what your co-parent is saying about you. This is incredibly unfair to the child, as they're being asked to spy for you on their other parent. Remember, their feelings are just as important as yours, and they're having to adjust to a whole new living situation. Don't ask for information on your co-parent, and don't put your children in that position.
4. Be Honest
Right now, it's important to be honest with your children. It hurts to be lied to, and children can often tell if you're not telling the truth. That said, you wouldn’t want to burden your children with facts that are not appropriate for them to know. You can be honest in an age-appropriate way, even if they're very young. Furthermore, the phrase, “Mummy and Daddy aren’t together anymore, but that doesn't change the way we feel about you,” may sound cliché, but it’s helpful for young children to hear. Remind your children how loved they are by both of their parents.
5. Consider Therapy
In some cases, you may wonder if getting your child therapy is a step too far. It can help to have someone for your children to talk to who is a neutral third party. A therapist is a trained mental health professional who can help your child work through their emotions during this big transition. You may even consider looking for a therapist while the divorce is happening so that your child has a neutral, safe adult to talk to as changes take place, rather than after the fact.
6. Listen to Your Children
There'll be several choices that have to be made during the divorce process, many of which directly impact your children. Listen to your children in order to get a better understanding of how to best accommodate their needs and wants. At times, you might ask for their opinion on something, but be careful as you do. During a divorce, a child might feel anxious about making choices when it comes to their parents, as they don’t want to upset either parent. Do your best to cater to their well being in every situation without putting pressure on them to choose sides.
7. Be Consistent
No matter what you do, ensure that you're consistent in the way you parent. Don't make any sudden changes if you can help it during this period. Your child is already going through some huge changes right now, just as you are. That means that any other changes during this time can make them feel unbalanced and unsure of where they stand with you both. Being consistent can help you avoid this.
8. Consider Other Techniques for Parenting Together
Of course, not every divorced couple can parent together the same way. If constant conflict and tension is an issue, then finding an alternative method of parenting together could be a good option. In this situation, consider looking into alternatives that will be the best for your child. Parallel parenting is one alternative option that helps parents stay involved with their children while remaining disconnected from one another.
9. Be Empathetic
Allow your child to express their feelings about the divorce. They may experience many different emotions, and letting them talk about them without fear of reprisal can help them to find it much easier to get through this period.
10. Work With Your Child
Finally, remember that every child is different. The parenting books may tell you to do one thing, but your child may need a slightly different approach. You know them best, so help them in the way that suits them best.
These tips will help you all get through the divorce process, and find a new 'normal' that works for you.
Author's Bio: Rachel Summers works in education, working with students to help them get ahead in their studies. This work has brought her to several different services, including UK Top Writers. Her writing online furthers this goal, helping students get the most out of their education.