A divorce or breakup won’t just be difficult for the couple involved. Any children that they share will inevitably have to adjust to life after the family changes. Co-parenting arrangements are often very stressful for parents and kids alike, and the more conflict your children witness, the more difficult the situation can become for them.
The good news is that there are a few ways for you to mitigate the unpleasant aspects of shared custody. If you and your ex both adhere to the three rules below, you will take a lot of the conflict and stress out of your co-parenting relationship.
Stop rehashing your relationship
If you have decided to divorce or break up, there is no point in continuing to revisit the issues that led to the end of your relationship. Addressing the same issues over and over will not change either of your feelings on the matter, but it will make it harder for you to cooperate as co-parents.
When you meet face to face or communicate in writing on a parenting app, you should keep your conversation focused solely on your children and your parental responsibilities instead of your relationship with each other.
Have a conflict resolution plan in place
Even if you treat one another with respect, keep your main focus on your children and work out the major terms for your parenting matters ahead of time, you will likely still occasionally get into disagreements about how to handle unanticipated situations.
Perhaps you need to sit down with a co-parenting therapist early in your transition so that the two of you can learn better conflict resolution and communication skills. Maybe you need to talk to a family friend or neighbor who will willingly serve as a mediator in these conflicts as they arise. When you have a solution for addressing your disagreements, they don’t have to do long-term damage to your co-parenting relationship.
Presented a united front
If the children sense the hostilities between the two of you, they may make use of that tension in your relationship. The children might manipulate you into doing things that you otherwise would not as a parent if you and your ex don’t communicate with one another and share the same standards for your children. It is important to discuss your expectations and rules so that the two of you can enforce them consistently between your houses.
Thinking ahead about the possible challenges of sharing custody will reduce how hard your new family circumstances are for you and for the children.