No matter the situation, ending a marriage can be difficult and stressful for all parties involved. This most especially applies to your children since they have very little control over what happens with your relationship. During the divorce proceedings, you and your spouse may come to an agreement which includes co-parenting, or shared custody.
Depending on the couple, co-parenting can go quite smoothly or it can be a source of anxiety and hostility. At the Center for Divorce Solutions, we advocate for a kinder, gentler divorce, including agreements concerning custody. Below are a few tips on how to have productive co-parenting communication and interactions.
Rather than going through a seemingly endless litigation process and putting you and your children through that strain, try divorce mediation. It allows you and your spouse to have open, honest communication about all the issues that need to be resolved and set in the divorce agreement. Mediation is led by a neutral third-party mediator and allows you to make decisions about your divorce, including how to parent your children, rather than the courts.
Make a Plan
While “making it up as you go” might work for some activities, co-parenting needs to have rules and regulations that you and your spouse can both agree on. Remember, these co-parenting rules should always be to the benefit of your children, so be sure to always keep them in mind. Decide how you will handle birthdays, holidays, family vacations, etc. Figure out how to approach things such as posting on social media or introducing your children to a new significant other in your life. Having everything decided ahead of time in a parenting plan will save you time, energy, and stress.
Decide How You Communicate Most Easily
If you and your spouse end up arguing every time you talk on the phone or in person, try only communicating via text or email to discuss matters concerning your children. It is far too easy for a conversation to become hostile, especially shortly after the divorce is finalized. You don’t want your children to see you arguing, and you don’t want an argument to ruin your time with your children. Find out what method of communication works best for you.
Although you may still have hostile feelings toward your ex-spouse, you should try to work them out in a healthy manner. This may be by talking to a therapist or enrolling in a kickboxing class. When you must communicate with your ex, try to always be kind, especially in front of your kids. Arguing and fighting will get you nowhere. As one of your co-parenting rules, take a breath and walk away if you feel anger rising. Just because you no longer have loving feelings toward your ex doesn’t mean you can’t still communicate with him/her about your children.
You will both have hectic schedules and now you must learn to coordinate with them for the benefit of your children. Keeping a shared calendar will be helpful to remember who will be picking the kids up from school or who needs to take them to their piano lesson, but sometimes life gets in the way. If your ex texts you that he can’t make his appointment, be flexible enough to take over for the day. Remember, you may need to do the same thing.
Contact Our Divorce Mediation Specialists
At the Center for Divorce Solutions, we understand how stressful a divorce can be, and we are dedicated to helping you have a kinder, gentler divorce. We know how to facilitate conversations during mediation and can give you some tips on communication once the mediation is over. Contact us to schedule your mediation or to discuss some co-parenting rules.