Parenting Tips for Divorced Couples
Divorce is a major life change for every couple, but if you and your spouse have children together, you may feel like your divorce is extra complicated. Child-raising can’t be an afterthought in the decisions you make about your divorce; your spouse is probably going to be a big part of your life until your children become adults. Co-parenting after divorce can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be painful. There are just as many good parenting strategies for divorced couples as there are for married ones. Of course, every divorce is unique in its own way, but there are some general rules that will help any couple raise happy kids after they split up.
In order to effectively co-parent, shared custody is always a good option if possible. Shared custody might not work so well with every parent’s schedule, but even if you work a lot, you should make an effort to maximize the amount of time you can spend with the kids. If both parents are involved and loving, shared custody is the best way to minimize disruption for your child and maintain an equal partnership with your ex.
Good co-parenting is so much easier if you and your former spouse can be flexible. Even if you have a schedule in place, both of you need to recognize that life happens. Ideally, parenting schedules should be guidelines, not unchangeable laws. If shared custody is not possible in your situation, be flexible with visitation time. Allow the other parent to attend your children’s big events, even if it’s not their day with the kids. Being there when your children need you is more important than avoiding an awkward situation with your ex.
Keeping consistency in your children’s lives can be a major challenge when co-parenting. Your two households can feel like one if you and your ex agree on universal rules your kids must follow, regardless of which parent they are with. If your children were misbehaving while staying with you, tell the other spouse what happened and ask them to uphold whatever punishment you decided on. If you two respect each other’s rules and parenting values, your kids will respect them, too.
Most importantly, divorce can be a challenging period for children, even if they understand it was the best thing for their family. During this transition, it’s more important than ever to be there for your children. Let them know with your words and actions that though their lifestyle is changing, your relationship with them is not. ‘Quality over quantity’ is a valid rule, but the quantity of time you spend with your children still matters. Maximize the amount of time you can spend with your kids, and be present and engaged during that time. Let them know that even when they’re not staying with you, you’re still caring for them.
Your marital relationship with your ex may have ended, but you two will stay partners for as long as you are parents. The key to successful co-parenting is support and consistency. If you and your spouse are flexible and open to compromise, you can minimize interruptions in your children’s lives. Your kids will understand that they always have two parents there to support them, regardless of which household they’re in.