By Donna Begg:
Divorce is said to affect at least 50 percent of marriages in the United States. When parents divorce, it creates another source of stress on family and parenting relations that mostly impact the children involved.
According to world news headlines on divorce, 43 percent of children in the U.S. are being raised without their fathers, and 75 percent of children with divorced parents live with their mothers.
For children, navigating this new dimension to the family situation can create feelings of anger, worry, frustration, uncertainty and fear. One can safely assume that conflicts will arise.
How well divorced parents treat their separation will have a direct effect on the social, psychological and emotional well-being of the children involved.
Communication between divorced parents is key to establishing ground rules to make the transition work effectively. Co-parenting requires empathy, compassion, patience and genuine concern for the children involved in order for communication to be successful.
Here are the five best parenting tips on how to co-parent kids of divorce.
1. Make your children the main focus
Every decision you make should have your kids as a first priority. Your main focus should be what is best for the children, and you should seek solutions that will make the transition as successful as possible.
Find the best possible solutions to foster the healthy development of your child’s emotional and psychological well-being. Try to minimize the disruption to the children’s routine as much as possible.
2. Commit to communicating with your ex
Aim for open communication as much as possible. If you have experienced a difficult relationship, communication after divorce can also have its challenges, especially if you and your ex have different parenting styles.
If you are a permissive parent and your ex is stern, it will affect how your children respond to discipline and established rules.
It is not necessary to be friends with your ex to communicate after divorce, so create ways to communicate with them (via email, letters, etc.). If face-to-face efforts are too stressful, seek to establish a business relationship to convey your messages to your ex.
Don’t communicate with your ex-spouse through your children. Aim to keep your children away from the center of the conflict. This will promote feelings of insecurity and helplessness in the children.
3. Find mutual ground
Seek to build upon shared concerns regarding your children and search for solutions. Practice exchanging information about any changing needs and priorities as they occur. Negotiate choices and solutions as objectively as possible.
Operate on the premise that your ex also has the best interest of the children at heart.
Play to your ex’s strengths, not manipulatively, but in ways that can help you make the best of their unique character traits that can help in situations. Try to strike a balance. You can show respect even if you may not agree with them.
4. Stick to the issues
Emotions and ego can establish barriers to effective communication. Make every effort to focus only on the issues at hand and not on your emotional needs or your ex’s.
Try not to address the emotional reasons why a problem is occurring. Examine your attitudes and the emotional reasons that may impact your decisions. Practice speaking positively about your former spouse with your children
Emphasize their positive traits to help your children focus on the positive qualities in each parent. This will improve your children’s sense of well-being and diminish feelings of resentment, anger and frustration.
If you receive information about your ex from your children, try to remain neutral and refrain from making negative comments about the situation. Don’t finger-point, accuse or discuss any issues with them.
5. Be consistent
Raising children can be challenging whether you’re married or separated. When divorce occurs, new rules will need to be established to accommodate visiting schedules and relations with extended family members.
Be aware of pitfalls that may arise. Children will observe the changes in the situation and may seek to manipulate one parent over another to their advantage.
Negotiate and agree on the role the extended family will play and how much access will be granted when the children are in their charge.
You and your spouse will need to find ways to ensure that the children continue to operate in a structured environment whether they are with you, the other parent or extended family.
Establish appropriate boundaries early and aim to have a united front with your spouse on issues. Relaxing established rules with children to “punish” your ex can backfire and have serious implications for how well the children transition between both parents.
A united front will help to maintain respect, structure and discipline. Seek to maintain regular schedules whether they are with you or your former spouse, and insist that they continue to follow set rules for the following:
- Recreation, television, etc.
- Schooling and homework
Divorce can be very stressful. It affects both parents and any children involved. The emotional upheaval and how the transition is handled will impact the social, emotional and psychological well-being of everyone involved, but especially the children.
Originally published on YourTango.