Divorce happens. Unresolved issues that perhaps the divorce could not bring to end, can bring out the ugly. Mostly resentful and perhaps jealous emotions creep up and boom, you are stuck between a rock and hard place trying to figure out how to the best papa in the whole world to your kids. Here are five tips to kick off healthy co-parenting relationship:
- Open Door Policy and Lines of Communication. We struggle with being effective verbal communicators, we do. Too often, we don’t bother, which could impact the quality of communication needed to coordinate and express needs/wants for our children and ourselves. Be accessible via email, text or voicemail at-all-times and if you will not be accessible, due to a work or other commitment – give a heads up or advance notice to the ex and give other options to reach you in case of an emergency. Your tone and body language communicate you too, so be respectful in tone and positive in body language or gestures.
- It’s About Your Kids. Remember, this is not about you or your ex. It’s about the children. So if you feel a snarky comment coming on – hold it back and reframe the situation and your mindset to focus on your children. Do it for them. Remember, your children did not ask for their parents to divorce or separate.
- Treat Your Ex With Respect. Always. It’s difficult, got it. Your ex may have bad mouthed about you to others in anger or said something that really got your blood to boil, but at the end of the day – losing respect for the mother of your children is the worse and will reflect in your behavior down the line. Your children will feel it too. Children are very perceptive to negative feelings from their parents and tend to absorb those same feelings. Children can sometimes turn on you or the other parent! So maintain your respect for your ex – so you don’t risk looking bad to your children or others, for that matter. Sent the right message.
- Business-Like. Always. No emotions. Your ex may be emotional, but you keep it cool, calm, controlled and collective (The 4 C’s). Have boundaries established and ensure you both follow procedures. Respect the house rules your ex may set up even if they are different from yours. Don’t debate or argue in front of children, ever. In fact, get to a point where there is no debating or arguing at all, but if it occurs, move it to another room away from the children.
- Be Together For The Children. That’s right, be together for an outing with the children. Now, it may take some time to get to this stage especially if you ended the divorce or separation badly. Once every few months or 2-4 times a year, arrange it mutually with your ex, to have everyone be together. It’s necessary for the children to see their parents in a healthy co-parenting relationship.