For some you divorce may seem like the end of the world, especially from the point of view of the kids. But that’s not true, divorce may change the structure of the family but it shouldn’t break it completely. When parents manage to stay civil and connected when their marriage ends offer their child much better outcomes. Research suggests that the quality of the relationship between co-parenting after divorce has a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of children. That’s because kids thrive in stable environments and are better able to handle their life. They feel a sense of belonging with both their mom and dad being there for them. That’s what parents should aim for.

However, no matter how ideal co-parenting after divorce sounds, it is a difficult process. Co-parenting presumes a continuing relationship between parents. It can be exhausting and stressful especially if you have a contentious relationship with your ex. A lot of times children are brought up in stressful environments.

The key principles for co-parenting

Although there is no “typical divorce” and no “magic formula” for ensuring positive child and family outcomes, there are some general principles for successful co-parenting.

Let’s discuss them one by one:

Maintain discipline

Inconsistent discipline between divorced parents can result in inconsistent behaviour of a child. If certain behaviours are allowed at one parent’s home and not at the other, kids can feel confused about expectations and problem behaviours can escalate. Agreeing on discipline offers children stability between homes, a consistent method of discipline means a kid knows what’s expected and can feel secure to thrive.

Provide your children with the security of maintaining existing relationships. Let them interact with their friends, extended family members and school circular activities. This gives children a sense of stability, continuity and predictability.

Be there for your children, both physically and emotionally

Quantity of time matters; quality relationships are not possible without sufficient time to develop and sustain those relationships. Although the quantity of time matters, sometimes it is not sufficient. Children need their parents to be emotionally present. Parents should be engaged and should take interests in the day to day activities of their children.

Healthy communication between co-parents

More than anything, it’s important for parents to remember that they are offering their child an example of communication in stressful times. Co-parents who yell, argue, tear each other down when they may raise a kid who shows those same behaviours when relationships get strained.

Read Also: Do We Need ‘Irretrievable Breakdown’ To Become Ground For Divorce?

Support the other parent’s role and relationship with your children

The idea is for both the parents to spend quality time with their children. You can support the other parent by maintaining a co-parenting schedule, remaining flexible in accommodating each other. It is important to separate your previous hostilities as a couple from your on-going co-parenting responsibilities.

Image credit: Verywell/Brianna Gilmartin

Talk with your children about the divorce

Children need to know that they will not be abandoned, physically or emotionally, by either of their parents. Reassure them by first of all creating a safe environment for the discussion. Give them enough time to process their emotions and provide them with a safe platform to channelise it. If possible, talk with your children together as equal parents, reassuring them that you will cooperate in the future.

Maintain your child’s community of support

Provide your children with the security of maintaining existing relationships. Let them interact with their friends, extended family members and school circular activities. This gives children a sense of stability, continuity and predictability.

Seek out formal and informal sources of co-parenting after divorce support:

Family members, friends, informal networks are vital in helping parents work through difficult feelings, anger management, and face multiple challenges through a divorce.

More formal sources of support include:

  • Therapeutic family mediation focused on the development and implementation of a co-parenting plan.
  • Divorce coaching and parenting coordination in high conflict situations.

Inconsistent discipline between divorced parents can result in inconsistent behaviour of a child. If certain behaviours are allowed at one parent’s home and not at the other, kids can feel confused about expectations and problem behaviours can escalate.

Maintain your own health and well-being as a priority

While it is important to take care of your child, it is essential to take care of yourself too. For the wellbeing of your child, it is necessary to maintain good mental, emotional, and physical health.

To conclude, it is critical to maintaining a meaningful routine relationship with each of their parents and to be shielded from on-going parental conflict. The challenge for parents is to develop and maintain a co-parenting after divorce relationship that ensures that both of these essential needs are met.

Read Also: Can We Stop Saying That The Dad Is Babysitting? He Is Parenting

Image Credits: carson-family.org

Gaurika Taneja in an intern with SheThepeople.TV 

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