Parenting does not come with a handbook and divorce can make parenting even more difficult. Here are my favorite 10 tips to help parents co-parent and support children while separating or divorcing:
Things To Do:
- Think of the co-parenting relationship as something brand new to be built from the ground up. It’s not the marriage.
- Repeatedly assure children that both parents will always love them. Do not assume they know. Tell them again and again.Talk to kids face to face about their feelings about the situation. “Tell me how you’re feeling about our arrangement. Is anything bothering you?”Let your child talk to you about their positive and negative emotions.
- Continue to assure children that they are not the cause of the divorce. Very young children, and sometimes teenagers, believe the world revolves around them and might think they had the power to break up the marriage.
- Don’t let guilt motivate parenting.
- Maintain as much consistency between homes as possible. (Rules, routines, etc.)Things To Avoid:
- Do not say negative comments about the other parent. Do not burden your child with your anger or frustrations.
- Don’t have your child send messages to your ex. Anything you need to coordinate or discuss should be done with your ex and not through your child. This will put them in the middle and is stressful for a child.
- Never make your child feel like they can not love their other parent. Tuck aside your own feelings and support your child in their relationship with the other parent.
- Don’t become overly rigid with parenting time. Be flexible and remember that your child has friends and interests outside of spending time with you and the other parent.
- Don’t over-interpret your child’s complaints about the other parent. It is important to listen to your child and to also support them in having a relationship with both you and the other parent.
Adapted by information from Shannon Himango, MA, LMFT ~ Mt. Olivet Counseling Service. Resources: Support Through Divorce by Erickson Mediation Institute and The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons.