Sep 23, 2012
Divorce Survival – Co-Parenting
The most child friendly model of parenting through divorce is the model most commonly known as co-parenting. In this model Mom and Dad continue to discuss issues as they relate to the child or children, interact routinely with regards to information specific to the kids, and often talk and/or phone each other with questions or concerns about the kids. While parents may not specifically spend time together with the kids, many co-parents attend birthday parties, school events and other special activities together to allow the child to feel very much a part of both parent’s lives.
Many people feel that co-parenting is an unreasonable expectation for divorced parents, however research clearly indicates that this is the best possible model for your children, provided both parents can remain civil, respectful and child centered during discussions and interactions. Co-parenting is almost like operating a business with the other parent as a partner with the goal of raising the happiest, healthiest kids. Co-parenting does not mean that you have to have extended conversations about anything other than the kids’ health, happiness and general well being and development.
Co-parenting requires a lot of effort on both parent’s part. Whatever caused the break up of the marriage has to be put aside or in the past, with all communication between the two parents now related to bringing up your children. Anger and frustration may occur, but effective co-parents use anger management and communication techniques to minimize or eliminate any anger towards each other in the presence of the children.
PARENTING ROLES VERSUS MARRIAGE ROLES
It is critical to separate the roles of an ex-husband and ex-wife from the roles as co-parents. Keep in mind that this is now a business relationship of raising your children in the most positive, calm and supportive environment possible for your kids. Whatever negative issues caused the divorce, they have to be put into the past and into perspective. The marriage roles as husband and wife are over and restructuring to be co-parents is going to take some adjustment. If you have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings towards the other parent, seek help and counseling for yourself. This will only help you be a better co-parent and help support your children through this restructuring process. Kids that see Mom and Dad being civil and respectful of each other will adjust to the divorce much more quickly than those that see ongoing hostility and anger.
Avoid asking personal questions, questions about finances that don’t apply to the children or about new relationships if this is a sensitive area. If you do need to discuss a potentially hot button topic, do it when the children are not present or absolutely will not be able to overhear the conversation. Remember, even telephone conversations can be harmful for kids to overhear if parents are upset or angry.
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