For any parent, your children should be your No. 1 priority in all aspects of your life, and that doesn’t change when you are going through divorce. However, with the complexities involved and the tensions that inevitably run high during this trying process, it can sometimes be difficult to keep the emphasis on your kids when you have so much running through your mind.
You hear stories all the time of children being used as pawns in an attempt to gain advantage when parents separate, but all that does is in the end is cause more hardship and stress on your kids. No matter how much you don’t get along with your spouse, it should be your goal to minimize the impact ending your marriage has on your children.
A term that comes up a lot when you are going through divorce is “co-parenting,” and if you are unfamiliar with this concept, it pretty much boils down to cooperating with your ex when it comes to raising your children for their benefit.
While not always easy, it is in the best interests of your children for both parents to set aside their personal differences when it comes to moving forward with a new post-divorce parenting arrangement. There are plenty of resources out there to assist with co-parenting, but from my experience, here are some of the top things you need to keep in mind to successfully co-parent during and after a divorce:
Communicate — There’s a good chance that you and your spouse lost the ability to effectively communicate at some point, which probably helped lead to your divorce in the first place. However, when you have kids, it’s important to relearn how to communicate with your ex about the children without it turning into a screaming match. This may not be easy, but it’s crucial.
Don’t badmouth the other parent — Even though you may not love each other anymore, your kids will still love both parents. Keep any negative criticisms away from the ears of your children, as it will do nothing but hurt and confuse them more than they already are.
Get an attorney — If it is possible, retain an attorney to help take care of the many complex matters involved with a divorce. This really helps to clear your plate and focus on learning to parent in the new setup you have moving forward. There are also attorneys who specialize in helping men and fathers, such as those at Cordell & Cordell, who can help ensure your parental rights are protected if you are having a particularly difficult divorce.
Be encouraging and make your parenting time count — Whether you are able to get an equal amount of time with your kids or you have less parenting time than you’d wish, you should make every moment you have with your children special. Continue to show the affection and support you always have, and reassure them that you and your ex still love them as much as ever, even if you two don’t get along.
For the sake of your children’s well-being, it is so important to make a conscious effort to keep them out of the middle of disputes or hostility to reduce the negative impact your divorce has on their lives. They are likely having a hard enough time adjusting to the divorce, so it’s up to both parents to make that transition as smooth as possible.