When I divorced my ex-husband, I didn’t want to stay in touch with him. However, we had two children together, and I was forced to learn how to co-parent with him. It took me several months to realize that in order to be successful at co-parenting, we had to sever our emotional ties and create a boundary between our current parenting roles and old marital issues.
Co-parenting works best when both parents put aside differences that resulted in their divorce and work together for the sake of the children. There can’t be hidden personal agendas or competition between the parents. If unresolved issues can’t be worked through, they need to be set aside, or forgiveness offered, when necessary.
Co-parenting doesn’t involve trying to control what goes on in the other home. You may be frustrated or concerned with how the children are parented, but after divorce, you have little influence regarding the other parent and their home. There are many healthy ways to raise children with different parenting styles and rules. It helps to discuss parenting concerns in private and offer respect, if possible, for the other parent.
It’s also important to separate child support payments and visitation rights. Children still have a right to see their parent even when child support payments are late or overdue. They don’t deserve further pain of being held hostage or used as revenge with an ex-spouse.
Co-parenting at its best gives parents the chance to talk about concerns and decisions regarding the children before conflict or confusion arise. Ongoing dialogue with the other parent either by phone, e-mail, or in person allows successful co-parenting to take place. With poor communication, children may seize the opportunity to take advantage of their parents, resulting in too much control and leverage in their choices.
It’s important for children to continue a relationship with both parents after divorce. They need permission to continue a loving relationship and shouldn’t have to face an emotional tug-of-war between their parents.
Co-parenting successfully is a goal worth striving for as it can result in happier and more stable children. Even if your ex-spouse wasn’t a good marriage partner, it doesn’t mean he/she isn’t a good parent, and may surprise with playing an attentive parenting role after divorce.