This article is provided by Tim Backes and Custody X Change.
Your divorce is inevitable. You’ve tried everything to avoid it, but it’s going to happen. No matter how you look at it, even if you know it’s the best course of action, it still hurts.
While it’s perfectly natural to feel that pain, if you’re a parent you’ll want to remember there are more than just yours and your ex-spouse’s feelings to consider. While you are no longer going to fulfill the role of a wife or husband in the short term, you are still a parent, and one half of a co-parenting duo.
A big reason why many couples put off divorce until they can no longer hold a faltering marriage together is to try and maintain some semblance of consistency for their children. Agreeing to work together as co-parents does the same thing for your children post-divorce. So what are those 3 tips?
1. Maintain a Unified Front
It’s all too easy for a recently divorced couple to badmouth their ex to their children no matter how conciliatory the split was. Sometimes you don’t even notice you’re doing it, but your children do.
It’s important to try and limit saying anything judgmental or negative about your children’s other parent. It’s OK and perfectly natural to think it, but you don’t want it to show.
Instead, by showing your children that although you and their other parent are no longer living together you are still in agreement with how you will raise them. This is the key way to maintain that sense of consistency and safety that kept you from divorcing sooner in the first place.
2. There is No Friend in “Co-Parent”
It’s very easy to forget you’re a parent and instead act as more of a friend when you and your children’s other parent aren’t living together. It’s a passive aggressive way to try and outdo or one up your ex-spouse.
By acting in such a manner, you break the concept of a unified front. It undermines the idea that although you and your ex are now divorced, you still plan to parent the same way. It also spurs a potential popularity contest between you and your ex that is absolutely not in the best interest of your children.
Children need parents. They will have friends from school and extracurricular activities. That doesn’t mean you have to be stern and cold, but you do need to maintain the boundaries that make you an authority figure and role model in their lives.
3. Follow the Rules
Part of your divorce should have been creating and agreeing to a parenting plan for your children. In that parenting plan you have to cover all the basics such as including a custody calendar. However, you can include additional provisions as well.
Whatever you and your ex put down in writing and agree to at the time of your divorce, do everything you can to follow it to a T. As mentioned before, you are still a parent and as a parent you are a role model.
By showing your children how to respect your ex and the agreements you have made, it shows them how to act responsibly. It also shows your ex that you’re not trying to undermine his or her role as a co-parent.
Becoming a successful co-parent is actually not all that different from parenting as a married couple. You should show your children you respect your ex-spouse. You should show your children that while you can listen to them and have fun together, you are an authority figure as well. And, you should show them how to respect agreements you have made.