As a Certified Divorce Coach, I see many clients who have challenges in co-parenting. For some, the pain of the breakup of losing their marriage, their financial security and loss of time with their children can make them feel like their world has turned upside down and grief stricken lash out to inflict pain on their ex with a sense of revenge. For others they may feel relief they are no longer married but the guilt, sadness and loss of their children tear them apart as they battle to gain access to see their children.
Marriage may not last forever but co-parenting does, so it is so important to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship for the sake of the children. There are key mistakes made during co-parenting which escalate conflict and damage parent/child relationships. They are -
Restricting access to see the children as punishment to the ex
Denying access for the grandparents to see the children out of spite
Focusing and interfering about what's going on in your ex's household when it isn’t about a safety issue for the children
Fear of a new partner being liked/loved more than you
Poisoning the children against the other parent creating parental alienation
These reactions occur out of fear and hurt but are not excusable. The key is to separate what you think about your ex or their partner and focus on the best interests of the children!
10 top tips to co-parent successfully -
Put the children’s needs first, not your own
Remind yourself your ex was a great parent before the breakup so why would they be any different now
Separate how you feel about your ex and the breakup from your co-parenting responsibilities
Don’t bad mouth your ex to the children as they are half of the other parent and impacts how they feel about themselves
The children survive divorce and adjust to the new family structure if mum & dad create two happy homes
Be happy the children had fun at the other parent’s house instead of making them feel guilty when they talk about the good time they had
Be grateful their new partner is kind and caring towards your children, and NOT mistreating them
The children need both parents in their lives, so focus on encouraging them to have a good relationship with each parent
How you as parents treat each other has a significant impact on the children’s future romantic relationships, so be great role models. Teach them how to treat people with respect and in turn how they expect to be treated!
As long as the children are not in danger or distressed, what goes on when they are with your ex is not your business
Remember one day you will find a new partner that you will want the children to love, so don't poison your children against your ex's partner
As parents be your best selves, respectful and considerate as you wish the same for your children. To bring up children amidst high conflict can impact your children’s mental health which can continue on into adulthood.