When a relationship involving children ends (by divorce, separation, whether with or without marriage), co-parenting becomes an issue.
When the child custody process is behind you and the various arrangements have been finalized, surprise, the other parent still exists and you both still have a relationship as parents.
The relationship is over; a complex co-parenting relationship has started. Making that relationship work can be a struggle for even the most well-intentioned, amicable parent. It takes planning and patience for a co-parenting situation to be healthy.
On the Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLC family law site, you can find a guide about co-parenting after a relationship ends. Here on our blog, we will lay out some advice parents have found helpful in navigating co-parenthood when the relationship is over:
First things first: Form respect
Create a mutual goal regarding the family picture after the end of the relationship that prioritizes respecting each other and the parental relationship. Maybe you and the other parent had a terrible relationship in the end. Maybe the split was uglier than you wanted it to be. Despite those realities, it is still crucial as co-parents to try to see each other with clear eyes and base a co-parenting relationship on respect.
Focusing on the respect you have for each other as parents can help you both shift focus from the hurts within the relationship and onto the importance of protecting each other’s relationship with the children. You might not like the other parent. The other parent might not like you. If you both like and value the goal of your kids having each parent as a regular part of their lives, then respect can guide you through that.
Foster that goal by allowing your children to respect, love and like both their parents. Don’t talk about the other parent in a hostile manner to or around your kids. It is normal to want to vent about your frustrations, but not with the children. That is best saved for friends, counselors, spiritual advisors or a journal.
Your children should be given the best chance at having both parents in their lives and to have a healthy view of their parents, too. We will post more about how to best try to create that reality in future posts.