Our plans as parents don’t always work out the way we hope they will, especially when it comes to divorce. If you are divorced or separated from your child’s other parent, you’re probably well-acquainted with the challenges that come with such an arrangement. Whether you get along well or not, it can be very difficult to stay on the same page when it comes to raising your kid. However, as challenging as this new arrangement can be, there are ways to make it work for you and your family.
To make your co-parenting arrangement successful, try following these tips:
1. Let Go of the Past
This step is certainly easier said than done, but if you can let go of past hurts and frustrations, it’s going to make your relationship with your ex much easier. If you ended things on bad terms or if there are unspoken issues between the two of you, do your best to handle those problems separate from parenting. Do your best to clear the air and move on, (without arguing in front of your child in the process), so that you can focus on fostering a healthy relationship with your ex going forward.
The importance of communication simply can’t be emphasized enough! You discussed big decisions about your child before your split, so think about how much more important it is to maintain this open dialogue afterwards. It’s best for the two of you to understand the rules your child follows in each household, as well as any behavioral issues with friends, family members, or at school. Never use your children as the go-betweens, always speak directly with their other parent so that the two of you can address any potential issues and make key decisions together. Not only will this help the two of you remain informed, it will also keep your child from receiving mixed messages.
3. Know When To Be Firm and When To Be Flexible
It’s important to find a balance between being flexible and a pushover. When you and your ex create a parenting plan, you have every right to stick to it as best you can, even if your child’s other parent wants to make changes. Retaining consistency is important, especially if your ex continues to ask for changes that come at the expense of your convenience or your valuable time with your child. However, it’s also important to allow for some flexibility when necessary. Things happen, and you’ll find that you will both need to rearrange your schedules every now and then for special events, doctor’s appointments, or other plans. Hopefully, if you’re able to offer some flexibility for your ex, he or she will extend the same courtesy to you when you need it.
4. Plan Ahead
Not everything can be planned for, but when you’re dealing with a child custody schedule, you should attempt to plan ahead as often as you can. If you know about a vacation coming up that you’d like to take the kids on, or if you’re aware of an upcoming job change that could affect your schedule, make sure you talk to your ex about it in advance. When the two of you have more time to handle any upcoming changes, it can be much easier to find a solution.
This rule applies to the little things too. If your children will be out of town, send your ex the contact information in case of emergencies. When you know your ex will be picking the kids up, make sure their things are packed and ready so the exchange can be as efficient and easy as possible.
5. Never Bad-Mouth Your Co-Parent
It can be challenging to keep quiet about your co-parent’s less-appealing qualities, but, remember how your comments could impact your child. Your children love both their parents, and maintaining a healthy relationship with both of you will make things significantly easier on them. When you have grievances with your ex, find a friend or family member to vent to, not your kids. And, when you do discuss your ex, make sure your children are out of earshot. Even if they don’t seem to be listening, you’d be surprised what information kids can pick up when you think they aren’t paying attention.
Co-parenting is certainly a challenge, but as long as you and your ex work together for the benefit of your children, you can make it work. However, sometimes this may require adjustments to your child custody or child support payments, which is where we come in. Our firm can work with you to find a workable solution that benefits you and your family.
Contact Smith Law Offices, LLCto discuss your child custody case with our St. Charles family law attorneys.