Children have an easier time adjusting after the divorce when parents co-operate and stay on good terms. While interacting with your ex-partner isn’t always pleasant or easy, it’s in your children’s best interests. Co-parenting and being amicable with your ex-partner after the divorce protects your child from unnecessary loss and other negative effects that divorce can have. Parents that co-operate smoothly benefit the whole family.
Sit down and talk with your children about how they feel about the divorce. Discussing your feelings together will help both you and your children adjust to the new situation and move forward.
Divorce might solve issues adults are having, but children rarely feel like divorce is a solution. Instead, children generally experience their parents’ divorce as a great personal loss. How you and your ex-partner behave during and after the divorce will determine how severely your child is impacted. By taking the right steps, you can do a lot to mitigate the actual loss caused to your child. Shared custody and mutual co-operation after the divorce require both parents to put in time and effort. Co-parenting succeeds best when parents are civil towards each other, manage to come to agreements, and can be flexible when necessary.
Children adjust to changes in the family better when parents manage to co-operate and remain on good terms. Both you and your children will have an easier time transitioning and moving forward when you each have a chance to process your feelings surrounding the divorce. Co-parenting isn’t always pleasant or easy, but it is in your children’s best interests. Successful co-parenting protects children from being negatively impacted by divorce and saves them from losing important relationships. When you have mutual respect for each other as parents, your child will find it easier to maintain a close relationship with both of you. If you are having problems with communication or find yourself in conflicts with your ex-partner, it’s important to get help as soon as possible.
In addition to the effects on children, the divorce is going to affect your friends and extended family. It’s especially important that you continue to share the responsibility of parenting and make sure your children’s relationships with friends and family don’t suffer as a result of the divorce. Grandparents and close family friends often have to go through similar feelings to the divorcing couple themselves. When you divorce, your own parents might be reminded of their own past relationships and break-ups. Often, grandparents are concerned about what their relationship with their grandchildren will be like after the divorce. For children’s sake, it’s important that friends and family don’t take sides in the divorce. Instead, the best thing friends and family can do is be supportive and encouraging of both children and parents that are going through a divorce.
Adults that have decided to divorce have made the decision to end their relationship with each other. However, having children together means you are still parents and still have to interact in matters regarding parenting and custody. Even though your relationship is over, parenthood is an equal responsibility. It’s important you process any strong emotions you have about the divorce and your relationship that might affect how you interact with your ex-partner. Children will also cope better if they see their parents getting along and being civil.
Co-parenting means that you share responsibility for financial matters and make decisions regarding children together unless otherwise agreed upon (sole custody or division of duties). Co-parenting means a shared custody agreement works out in practice. Co-parenting usually requires some degree of communication between you and your ex-partner so that your child isn’t used as a messenger and you avoid burdening your child with decision-making. You should come to a mutual understanding about how and how often you exchange information about your child’s affairs. Some parents find a concise email is enough to stay in touch, while other parents feel more comfortable using WhatsApp or texting. Phone calls or having a chat as children are coming to visit or leaving works as well. The Finnish-language Kaksi Kotia (Two Homes) app can also be used as a tool for messaging and exchanging information.
Building a co-parenting relationship after separating takes time. Productive communication, flexibility and remaining open to suggestions and new possibilities are all qualities that create a good foundation for a successful co-parenting relationship. Both of you should be equally committed to sharing responsibility for parenting and willing to make compromises when necessary. Similarly, both of you are individually responsible for ensuring your child maintains a close relationship with the other parent. Encouraging your child’s relationship with their other parent takes dedication and requires you to be supportive and respectful of your child’s mother or father. How you speak to your child about their other parent is also very important.
Co-parenting after a divorce relies on productive communication between parents. This can be a challenge when problems with communication were a reason you decided to end the relationship in the first place. Many parents have realized that they started to get along better when they started to think of their ex-partner as the mother or father of their child instead of as an “ex”. There are many ways to co-parent, but from a child’s point of view, being on speaking terms and managing to agree on decisions regarding children together is enough. Each co-parenting relationship is different, and you should focus on finding a system that works for you.
After the divorce, it’s a good idea to think about how you’re going to divide parenting duties and responsibilities between yourselves. When you find solutions to the small everyday issues in advance, you’re less likely to find yourselves in conflict later. Clearly outlining things like how you’re going to stay in contact or who’s responsibility it will be to make purchases for your child will make it easier to have a working co-parenting relationship. The Parenting Plan is a good tool to use to work through the practical matters that need to be taken into consideration after a divorce. The plan helps you look at daily matters from a child’s perspective and encourages productive behaviour after the divorce.
If you need help with parenting after a divorce, family mediation, peer support groups and the Apua eroon chat are some examples of available services. Search for your local services here.
“It’s all about compromises on both sides, flexibility and staying open. You need to be able to talk about your child openly together and share your opinions. After all, your children’s best is all that matters. It’s important to be able to agree and not make things more difficult than they need to be”
“We had our kids together and we’re going to raise them together. Co-parenting is sharing and talking, even though you don’t always feel like it. We’re both putting our child’s wellbeing first and sometimes I just have to remind myself of that.”
“If you’re able to stay on good terms after the divorce, you’ll save yourself problems down the line. It makes it so much easier on everyone.”
After you divorce, you and your ex-partner will eventually enter new relationships and new adults will become a part of you and your children’s lives. New relationships provoke emotions. Even if you weren’t previously having issues, it’s possible that your new relationship could place your working relationship with your child’s other parent in crisis. How soon new partners enter the picture after the divorce and how each of you are personally coping affect how strongly you feel. When you or your child’s other parent enter a new relationship, re-evaluate the boundaries between your personal life and the co-parenting relationship you have with your child’s mother or father. As with other issues, the best thing to do is focus on putting your child first so that your own negative emotions don’t hurt your co-parenting efforts.
New partners provoke emotions in children as well. Children can become jealous of their parent and this can cause angry behaviour. Many children hold on to hope that their parents might get back together one day and seeing their parent with a new partner crushes this dream. It’s important to let children adjust to the divorce first before introducing them to a new partner. Even though you have a new partner, your child will still want to spend one-on-one time with you. Spending quality time together is a good way to show your child that you still love and care about them and that they are important to you and don’t have to compete for your attention.
Consider the timing of introducing a new to partner to your child carefully. Beware of involving adults in your child’s life for only a short time. Out of loyalty to both parents, your child might feel unsure about whether they’re allowed to like a parent’s new partner. Neither parent should criticize or speak ill about the other’s new partner in front of your child. Remember that your child’s other parent’s new partner might one day be one of the most important adults in your child’s life. If you feel bitter or jealous, it’s important to vent to your friends, close relatives or a professional, but avoid showing your negative emotions to your child. When your child doesn’t have to worry about tension between adults, forming a new relationship with a parent’s new partner can bring your child a lot of joy and security.