Divorce is stressful and when you have minor children with your spouse, it brings the stress to a whole other level. If you’re worried how the divorce will affect your children’s happiness, their attitudes on marriage, and your relationship with them, it’s normal to feel this way. If you’re thinking, “How am I going to raise my children with my ex in the picture?” we want you to know that it is possible to develop a healthy, successful co-parenting relationship.
If domestic violence is not an issue, you should be able to get through the breakup with your relationship with your children intact, if not better than ever. However, it’s going to take a positive attitude, and some diligence on your part. With that in mind, here are our tips on successful co-parenting:
- Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, do not badmouth him or her to your children. This only adds fuel to the fire.
- Do not discuss your divorce on social media. Again, this would only anger your spouse and cause further problems.
- Treat your spouse with respect. Avoid sending angry emails or texts, and avoid getting into heated discussions with them. Instead, act mature and responsible.
- During the divorce, spend loads of quality time with your children.
- If possible, seek a joint physical custody arrangement.
- If you are the non-custodial parent, stay physically close. If you can stay in the same school zone it will make it much easier to see your children regularly.
- Be flexible with your ex about scheduling. For example, if he or she asks you to take the kids so they can go on a work trip or work an extra shift, let them. What’s the harm in being flexible with each other’s schedules? It’s a win-win situation, plus you get to see more of your kids!
- Be actively involved in your children’s lives. Drive them to practices or classes. Show up at all of their events, and don’t make it awkward when you see your ex at events and activities.
- If your schedule allows, volunteer in your children’s classes or sign up to be their coaches.
- If you’re in the Armed Forces or you travel frequently for work, stay connected to your children daily through Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, and other communication tools.
- If your former spouse finds someone “special,” treat him or her with respect no matter how difficult it may be.
- If you start dating, schedule the dates for nights when your children are with the other parent. Avoid hiring a babysitter on “your nights” unless you have sole physical custody and need some occasional adult time.