According to the CDC, 2019 data shows that for every 1,000 of the population, 2.7 of marriages end in a divorce.
What many divorced individuals with families face is the challenge of raising their children in this setup. Distance takes a toll on communication, time, and the relationship itself. Meanwhile, the separation is already life-changing on its own. Staying in the loop may require more effort at the first and running the household on your own is a challenge, especially during the adjustment period. But with a joint effort in co-parenting, the transition will become a little easier to bear.
What Is Co-Parenting?
Co-parenting refers to taking the responsibility to raise a child, especially when the other person is not the biological parent or does not live with the child all the time (i.e. separated or divorced with the other parent).
How To Make Co-Parenting Work
After legal matters are settled and the dialogue has been started already the next thing to tackle is how to parent the child together despite the circumstances. Co-parenting can be a challenge but when done right, it will help support the child’s development and cater to their welfare. Here are some important points to consider to get to that.
Regular and Healthy Communication
The biggest and most important aspect of everything about co-parenting is communication. Communication is a great avenue to get on the same page.
Having boundaries helps clear up the air about what decisions and actions fall under each other’s jurisdiction, and knowing what each has control over. This applies to both parenting and personal lives.
When it comes to big decisions that involve the child, such as transferring schools or health concerns, keep the other parent in the loop especially if the child lives under your roof. It’s important to let the other parent practice their right to being a parent of the child, especially if they’re the less-seen one. This is something they will appreciate and it will also set an example for your child. Other than that, two heads are always better than one.
Never let your child become the bridge between you and your co-parent. This will not just expose your child to your conflict, but put them in the middle of it too. Fostering healthy communication with your co-parent means you are also setting healthy boundaries between your child and your relationship issues. Since both parties are parenting the child, it’s natural and recommended to have regular contact.
Talk to an Adult About Your Struggles
Don’t burden your children with your struggles, be it emotional struggles during this life-changing transition to legal frustrations. Never put your child in the position to be the receiving end of this. Vent to your close friends, family members, or therapist, or consult your family lawyer instead. The child must be going through their own emotions too as they adjust to these changes as is.
But for the most part, let your child enjoy their childhood. Let them be a kid. But if they ever want to vent to you about what they feel, be receptive and listen intently. After all, it’s a parent’s job to cater to their child’s needs, and that includes the emotional.
Quality Time Over Conventionally Fun Things
Although doing fun things together makes for good memories, spending quality time should be the priority. Doing everyday activities like walking the dog or watching a movie on the couch can already suffice as quality time together. If you’re the less-seen parent of the two, don’t feel pressured to do something grand for every weekend you meet your kids. Although that’s fun, it’s good to spend some mellow time together like you would at home.
Additionally, being the fun parent isn’t healthy for the relationship as it blurs the line between being an authority figure and the fun dad or cool mom. It’s easy to give in to the guilt by spoiling the child and allowing them to back peddle from responsibility.
Quit Accusatory Tendencies
Finger-pointing will not solve anything. Bringing up past issues will prove unproductive and will cause more tension than necessary. Blaming and accusing shouldn’t be a norm, especially in discussions involving the child.
However, being on the opposite end of the spectrum is also wrong. If there is anything your co-parent’s parenting style that bothers you, it’s worth bringing up. Effective communication means being able to differentiate yourself from history and past issues to get t
At the end of the day, the priority is to give the child healthy development. Despite the issues, both parties should do their best to see past these and keep their child’s welfare their prime focus.