Divorce, Children & Parenting
So you’re filing for divorce. On top of all the stress and pain that can come with this difficult choice, divorcing couples who are also parents have an even larger task to face: how to take on a new role as a co-parent.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. Divorce + Children does not have to equal war. Many would argue that parents who are hostile toward one another in the marriage do their children a service by separating.
When parents can look at one another differently, the whole system shifts. Parents who choose to now see their former partners in a more business-professional light can do their children a wonderful service. Try to think of the other parent now as your “partner parent”.
You’re a parent who loves your child and wants the best for them. Your children need to see that they are more important than the conflict that ended your marriage. Here are 5 tips to make sure they do:
- Spend quality, attentive, emotionally engaged time with your child. If you have more than one child, you may want to set aside time each month for a special “date” with each one. Your children need to know that they are special to you and that you value your time with them. When you are together, keep your phones and laptops down.
- Talk with your children openly and honestly about the divorce. The key words here are “honest” and “open.” Children who learn that they cannot express their voice without feeling devalued or made to feel guilty will learn to stay quiet or look elsewhere to feel heard. Reassure them that you both will continue to be there for them physically and emotionally. Identify any struggles they have and address them with kindness and compassion.
- Support the role and relationship the other parent has with the children. Keep the agreed-upon schedule, and also be flexible to accommodate each other when possible. Let go of your relationship conflicts to focus on the present and (now) more important relationship: parenthood. Speak about the other parent respectfully, especially around the children. Remember: in your child’s eyes, their other parent makes up 50% of who they are.
- Practice open and regular communication with the other parent. Hold co-parenting (business-like) meetings monthly to discuss the children’s schedules, needs, and growth. Do not discuss your personal lives at these meetings, unless one of you is bringing a new person into the children’s lives. Keep the conversation focused on the children. If you cannot meet or talk in person without aggression, then communicate via email, voicemail, and written word. Never use the children as messengers. Don’t involve them in your disputes or interrogate them about the other parent’s personal life. Remember, if you two are divided on parenting, the children will sense this and will have a much easier time manipulating both of you!
- Embrace the changes. When you both can embrace the change and see the positivity that can come from a divorce, your mentality will be reflected in your children. If you are resistant and bitter, your children will reflect that. Ask yourself what you want your children to reflect, and embrace it. Your children need a mentally and emotionally healthy model to follow through these murky waters.
Finding success as you learn to co-parent boils down to what you already have inside you: immeasurable love for your children. When you fill them with that love and keep them away from any of the yucky feelings you may have for their father or mother, your children will truly thrive. Who wouldn’t want two homes filled with love and warmth?!
If you are filing for divorce and know you need a divorce attorney who keeps your children at the top of the list, call Paul Bowen today. Navigating co-parenting is hard enough. Filing for divorce doesn’t have to be.