It's an unfortunate but realistic fact that not all marriages sustain with success. But, children who see their parents continuing to work together through separation and divorce, are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves. They will also have a healthy example to follow. It’s important for parents to remember that their feelings about their ex does not and should not, dictate behavior. It’s better to focus on being a positive example, putting your child’s well being in the spotlight.
This begins with recognizing that while you might not be partners, you can still co-parents. Reena B. Patel, parenting expert and psychologist, offers her top tips to raise children together--even if you're apart
- Commit to making co-parenting an open dialogue with your ex. Arrange to do this through email, texting, voicemail, letters, or face-to-face conversations. In the beginning, it may be hard to have a civil dialogue with your ex. There are even websites where you can upload schedules, share information and communicate so you and your ex don't have to directly touch base.
- The key is consistency. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same between the two households, but you and your ex should establish generally consistent guidelines. They should be mutually agreed upon for both households. For example, meal time, bed time, and completing homework need to consistent. This helps create a sense of belonging and creates a sense of security and predictability for children. Discuss and come to an agreement about each of these issues.
- Don’t give in to guilt and try and outdo your ex by gifting you child with things, instead agree on discipline. This includes things like behavioral guidelines, rewards, and consequences, so there is consistency in their lives, regardless of which parent they're with at any given time. Research shows that children in homes with a unified parenting approach have greater well-being.
- Keep in mind that children will frequently test boundaries and rules, especially if there's a chance to get something they may not ordinarily be able to obtain. This is why a united front in co-parenting is recommended.
- Be flexible and update often. If there are changes at home, in your life, it is important that your child is never the primary source of information.
- Speak in positive language about your ex. Remember, often times, the marriage is what was the issue, not the parenting style. Each of you has valuable strengths as a parent.
- Remember to recognize the different traits you and your ex have - and reinforce this awareness with your children. Children exposed to conflict between co-parents are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. Keeping this in mind, strive to keep conflict around them to a minimal or none at all.
- Keep the conversations child-focused. This will leave out problems that you and your ex have with each other. The focus now needs to be on the children.Children who see their parents continuing to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves. They will also have a healthy example to follow. It’s important for parents to remember that their feelings about their ex does not, and should not, dictate their behavior. It’s better to focus on being a positive example, putting your child’s well being in the spotlight.
This is not a sponsored post. Tips via Reena B. Patel (LEP, BCBA) is a renowned parenting expert, guidance counselor, licensed educational psychologist, and board-certified behavior analyst. Get more parenting tips via her Instagram @reenabpatel.