The co-parenting struggle is real. While you don’t have to be BFFs with your ex, sometimes you need to suck it up and become a collaborative team for the sake of your children. Of course, that is easier said than done.
Coping with parenting when your children live between two households can be difficult. You need lots of patience, kindness and understanding to manage your children. You also need to have a commitment to consistency between you and the other parent. Setting boundaries and keeping disciplinary measures in place will make life easier for everyone.
We’ve put together 8 quick tips that will help you along the way.
Tip 1 – to be a good co-parent, sort yourself out first
If you have not done the work to move on from the past and onto the next chapter of your beautiful life, you will bring the same hurt into the co-parenting relationship. When you are combative with your ex, even the smallest decisions can escalate and make life unbearable. Try to view your relationship with your ex as a completed one and not a failed one. Own your own role in ending the relationship because when you are happier individually, it’s much easier to co-parent and deal with the children moving from home to home.
Tip 2 – Stick to the same rules
Try to keep the same rules in place that were followed by the children prior to separation. For example, if the children weren’t allowed to watch television after 6pm on a school night, don’t suddenly decide that it’s okay for them to do that now. When children are feeling like their world is changing, they need to have stability and sameness in their daily routine. Maintaining household rules and standards can go a long way in providing children with a sense of stability.
Tip 3 – Try to communicate as a team
Disagreements about the care of the children are inevitable and when they arise, it is always best to keep heated moments away from the children. If you have to discuss something of importance, schedule a date and a neutral place to talk. Try your best to not get personal and treat the other parent with respect. If this doesn’t work for you, see tip 4.
Tip 4 – Get others involved where necessary
If you have a less than cordial relationship with the other parent, try to enlist the help of a trusted family member or friend to act as a ‘go-between’ to help keep a flow of discussions about the children. Alternatively, you might like to use a communication book to write and receive messages to and from the other parent, keeping it cordial and factual at all times. It helps to adopt a more business-like arrangement with your ex and make sure that if you cannot agree on anything else, at least agree on making all decisions child-centred. Achieving consistency across both homes will be a great help to you and the other parent.
Tip 5 – Keep your views to yourself
It is never a good idea to discuss your personal views of your ex with your children and it is never okay to turn your children against the other parent. Remember, your former partner is still your child’s father or mother and they deserve the right to have a relationship with the children, untarnished by your views. When you use negative speech in front of a child, you are teaching them to be disrespectful and you may also unintentionally make your child feel insecure. In years to come the children will be able to make up their own minds about how they feel about each of their parents, but for now, hold your tongue. No matter how hurt or angry you are, keep your opinions to yourself and spend some time venting with a close friend, not your children.
Tip 6 – Give the children a secure routine
Living between two houses can be tough on children but they are also resilient little human beings. You can assist your children in building resilience by achieving a routine that they can feel comfortable with, which will help them feel secure. Help your children to manage the division of clothing and other personal items between home and school to minimize any stress of being without something because it’s at ‘the other parent’s home’.
It can be a difficult and awkward time transitioning to a two-parent lifestyle however if you are able to keep the lines of communication open and have a positive mindset, good results can be achieved. Above all, keep talking with your children about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing and continue to support them through the transition period after separation.
Tip 7 – Leave the children out of adult decisions
Sometimes when there is only one adult in the house, a parent may make the mistake of treating their children as a friend – bouncing decisions off them and discussing adult topics like money and parenting issues. It is okay to let children pick out their clothes, favourite ice cream flavours and subject electives at school, but we should not let them pick where they will live, whether they will go to school, and the like. When a child has too much power it can lead to poor choices and lessen the respect for a parent.
Tip 8 – Get yourself a solid support network
If you are co-parenting, you already know that tensions can run high. It’s important to have someone to talk to when you’re going through difficult times. Do your best to establish a rock-solid network that might include a good friend, a mentor or even a family member. Take some time to connect with your network and don’t be afraid to seek help, assurance and advice when you need it.
If you have recently separated and need assistance with formulating a parenting plan or parenting orders, contact O’Loan Family Law, North Sydney Lawyers, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9922 2230.
This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.