Sadly, divorce not only breaks couples apart, but it also has a way of bringing out the worst in even the most caring and thoughtful of individuals.
It’s emotions like anger, jealousy, and resentment that create seemingly insurmountable obstacles to a successful co-parenting relationship. And it’s these fiery emotions that make co-parenting a significant challenge for many former couples.
The fact is, children need both their mother and their father in their lives, regardless of whether or not both of you are still married. However, if the relationship between you and your ex is toxic, this negativity can spill over into the life of your children and have a substantial detrimental effect on their well-being.
At the Fennell, Briasco, & Associates, we’ve helped countless clients with co-parenting and visitation arrangements that foster a positive environment for the children and with co-parenting strategies that encourage a healthy relationship.
Read on to learn more about our tips for having a healthy co-parenting relationship.
Remember, it’s all about the kids, not you
Challenges are significantly decreased when adults remember that it’s about the kids and not about themselves. Make a commitment with your ex to always put your child(ren)’s needs and well-being above your own.
Set your issues aside. Initially, it will be difficult to set aside the wounds and bitterness of the past, but in doing so, a tough situation will be made a whole lot easier. As difficult as it may be, encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with their new stepparent. In order to do this, it’s important that you recognize that the new stepparent is not there to replace you, rather they are there to help raise your children. A healthy attitude and a positive effort will go a long way.
Always treat your ex with respect (even if you feel they don’t deserve it)
Regardless of how your ex treats you, you must always treat him/her with the utmost respect. Staying respectful is not only in your children’s best interests, but it’s also necessary for maintaining a civil relationship between you and your ex.
Bad mouthing your ex, or being disrespectful towards them, hurts your children in the long-run. Keep in mind that your children are always watching and learning from your actions. Being disrespectful imparts a negative lesson on your children about how people should be treated and what relationships will look like. One big outcome of this is that children turn against one or both of their parents. Likewise, do not allow your children to speak ill of your ex or act disrespectful towards them even when they are in your home.
Keep open communication with each other
All healthy and successful relationships thrive on open lines of communication. Sadly, some people are better at communicating than others. Communication, however, does not just have to be verbal. The lines of communication can be kept open through email, texting, voicemail, and face-to-face conversations.
Along with communication, keep in mind that vocal inflection and body language are also a means of conveying messages. For example, if your tone is sarcastic and your body language is closed-off or angry, then those messages will be picked up on by your children and your ex regardless of what comes out of your mouth. When the lines of communication are closed, it is the children who will suffer the most.
Do not withhold visitation from your kids
When you deny your children the opportunity to see your ex, you are hurting them more than they already were hurt through the divorce process. Also, attempting to punish your ex by withholding their children from them is also hurtful to your children in the long-run.
Refrain from using your children as pawns in your quest to seek revenge on your ex. In withholding visitation from your ex and not allowing your children to see their other parent, the pain you are inflicting on your ex is nothing compared to the pain you are putting your children through.
Keep things friendly and professional
A healthy co-parenting relationship looks very much like any professional relationship. In any solid business relationship, emotions are put to the side. This is exactly as it should be in any successful co-parenting relationship. Always do what is best for your kids.
Come to an agreement with your ex on behavioral guidelines, boundaries, and house rules. If this cannot be done, then you need to expressly tell your children what the rules in your house are and what your value system looks like. While doing this, you must also respect your ex’s house rules even though they may be different than your own.
Having co-parenting or visitation issues? We can help.
If you are having issues with co-parenting plans or visitation, then Fennell, Briasco, & Associates (CFL) can help. Our experienced family law attorneys and criminal defense lawyers will help you to solve your legal situation while providing you with the answers you need.