Most parents want the best for their children, so their welfare is often a contentious issue during divorce proceedings. Parents have to be extra sensitive to their children’s needs and wants, especially during difficult times. They should also strive to set aside their differences to focus on the challenge of raising their children after their separation.
Divorce affects everyone in the family. The parents are often under enormous pressure and stress, and some of that is projected onto the children. On the other hand, the children may experience a range of emotions, some for the first time. But with the chaos of a divorce, the parents may not give the proper attention and care the children need.
A divorce lawyer can help with the divorce’s legal aspects, but only the parents can make co-parenting work. Parenting is hard enough under normal circumstances. Here are a few co-parenting strategies that will help you deal with the challenges of raising children after a divorce.
1. Get to the root of their concerns
It’s not uncommon for children to throw a tantrum when they’re stressed or anxious. But if you notice that it’s becoming a common occurrence, it could be a manifestation of divorce trauma. The next time your child acts out, instead of scolding them, try to get to the root of their concerns. Start by acknowledging their feelings and offer words of comfort.
Assume that every problem has a solution. Your child is probably throwing a tantrum because they feel stressed about something. Ask them what you can do to make them feel better. Sometimes, the problem can be easily fixed. All you have to do is to try to ask them about it.
2. Don’t fixate on numbers
Many parents get hung up on the number of hours each one gets to spend with their child. Some even count the time spent down to the hour, which can only aggravate tensions at the child’s expense.
It’s not about how much time you spend with your child, but what you do with it. You may not realize it, but there’s a lot you can do to develop your relationship with your children, even if you’re not present all the time. The key to this is to find a schedule that works for everyone. As long as you make an effort to spend quality time with your children, you’ll have no problem maintaining your bond with them.
3. Communicate changes
Children need stability. If you’ve committed to being with them three times a week, then you need to hold up your end of the bargain. Otherwise, you will find it more difficult to gain their trust.
That said, there are some things outside your control, and you need to inform your co-parent ahead of time if you’re going to miss a few dates. Sometimes we get sick, or we have to travel for work. You’re bound to miss a few dates. The important thing to remember is to communicate any changes ahead of time.
4. Don’t overstep your boundaries
Adjusting to life after divorce is never easy. One day you’re living with your kids under one roof, and the next day you’re alone in a one-bedroom apartment. It can be difficult to cope with loneliness, which is why you need to find new ways to fill your time. You can always take a vacation, or pursue a hobby, or socialize more often.
By doing this, you get to avoid awkward situations. We often see people barging in on their co-parent’s time and space to see their children. It’s important to respect boundaries, and their time with your kids is sacrosanct. Don’t show up uninvited at their doorstep. If you truly need to see them, make arrangements with your co-parent ahead of time.
5. Bury the hatchet
No one is forcing you to make amends with your ex, but it’s easier to raise children if both parties are on good terms. If reconciliation is a tough prospect, you can make the pill easier to swallow by thinking of a co-parent as a colleague. You don’t have to be friends with them, but you need to find a way to work together.
A final word
Just because your marriage failed doesn’t mean you and your co-parent can’t work as partners. Your children deserve a warm and loving home, even in a two-household situation. As long as you treat each other with respect, you can focus on raising your children to be kind, loving, and well-adjusted adults.