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Making Co-Parenting Easier

Posted by Micki McWade, LCSW in Divorce and Children

Five Things Divorcing Parents Need to Know

  1. Think of the future. Because someday you may be walking your daughter down the aisle together, sitting with your ex at your child’s college graduation or waiting outside the delivery room as your grandchild is born, don’t make things worse than they already are. In fact, over time, strive to improve the co-parenting relationship. Parenthood is forever. It transitions right into grandparenthood, regardless of divorce.
  2. Take a break. Disagreements are normal when co-parenting. If you find yourself getting upset during a discussion, take a break. Say “I’m getting upset and I need to calm down. Let’s stop for now and continue in the morning”, (or when convenient for both). Very often, when emotion has cooled, understanding and solutions emerge. In contrast, arguments escalate and frighten children.
  3. Take the high road. Try to take the high road without becoming a doormat. This requires a high level of discernment, maturity and patience. I call this divorce management. If you don’t have one or more of these qualities, recognize it and work on developing it. You can only control your own behavior.
  4. Read books and articles about kids and divorce. Children experience their parents’ divorce differently than their parents do. Divorce has an entirely different context for children. The more you know, the better, so learn as much as you can. It will make a difference.
  5. Don’t take children literally without checking. Divorce creates opportunities for misunderstandings. When kids talk about their experience with the other parent and say something that feels upsetting, clarify with your co-parent and get context before jumping to conclusions. Children are filtering observations through a child’s or adolescent’s mind and may misinterpret what they see or hear. There may be a good explanation.

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