Secrets to effective co-parenting
When a relationship comes to an end, it can be a dramatic and frustrating time for the children caught in the middle. Children who are victims of divorce can feel caught in the middle, forced to choose between two parents, or even that their parents don't love them anymore. Even if you have no love for your partner anymore, you're always going to love your kids, and helping them cope with your changing relationships is vitally important.
Be respectful of your ex
Even if you are working through a lot of issues, remember that everything you say about your ex, you are saying about their mom or dad. Undermining, disrespecting, or belittling the other parent, no matter how justified it may make you feel, isn't going to make the situation better. When you speak about the other parent, try to be respectful of your child's feelings, even if you can't summon the same respect for your ex.
Communicate directly with your co-parent
Remember how your kids were before the divorce? “Can I have a cookie, dad said it was okay!” When dad may or may not have said any such thing? Divorce makes it even easier for enterprising children to make the most of the situation.
It's also easier to manipulate you, by using your known dislike of the other parent to bend the rules. Sure, it may be true that dad lets them stay up or eat extra junk food, but those might just be words too.
If dad said no to going to a special event, call first and check to find out why. The whole story may not be what your kids implied. They are kids after all.
Share with your ex
Your ex loves the kids just as much as you do. They have the right to see the report cards of your children, to know about their successes and failures, and to know what's going on in the lives of the kids. If they can't be with the kids all of the time due to work or parenting privileges, give them the chance to at least stay updated by letting them see the awards and general highlights of their lives.
It's also important to be willing to share time with your co-parent. That means letting the kids have Christmas at dad's house, thanksgiving at mom's house, and trading off each year (or what ever you both mutually agree on.) It's unfair to take the best moments for yourself when your ex may feel just as strongly about those holidays.
Co-parenting is difficult, especially when you have a mutual dislike of each other, but even if you can't get along, you should be able to work with each other in order for the children to have the parenting they need. By working together, your kids can still grow up strong and balanced, knowing that both of their parents care for them, even if the marriage didn't work out the way they had all hoped.
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