Unfortunately divorce is a factor in many marriages today with 45% of all marriages ending in it. Divorce can be extremely difficult on the kids, and how the parents deal with the kids after divorce can go a long way in helping the kids adjust in a healthy way. There are two ways that parents may approach their parenting after divorce: Parallel parenting and co-parenting.
Parallel Parenting. With parallel parenting, the kids have designated times they spend with each parent and when they do, they usually do not see the other parent. In parallel parenting you are each working separately to raise the kids. It involves a period of disengagement of each parent from the other.
You do not talk to each other about the minor aspects of your child’s lives, only the important issues as you pass the child back and forth. For example, if the child has been sick you notify the other parent and tell them what medicine they have been on.
Parallel parenting is a must in those relationships where there is a high amount of conflict between the parents. They will never be able to agree things, so it will be impossible for them to take part in co-parenting. Parallel parenting, if fraught with conflict amongst the parents, can be detrimental for the children.
When parallel parenting occurs children will often play one parent against the other.
Co-Parenting. Co-parenting involves the two parents getting together and coming up with a plan as to how they are going to deal with the kids. It is a conjoined effort in which both parents have a say. This type of parenting after divorce is much better for the children and will result in fewer behavioral and emotional issues for your child. It is based on the principle that children have the right to maintain their relationship with both parents. Below are some tips to help you co-parent better.
Make a Plan – Before you do anything you must come up with a plan as to how your co-op will work. It is important that you treat it like a business, and just like a business has a business plan you must do the same. This plan should include such things as how the kids will be exchanged for holidays, visitations and vacations. It is important that you are precise about this so that there won’t be room for misunderstandings and disagreements. If you treat this like a business partnership there should be no room for emotions.
Listen – When you first sit down to come up with the plan you may not agree on much. You must listen to each other thoroughly at first without jumping in with objections as to why it won’t work. Don’t belittle your spouse’s ideas.
Negotiate – Now that you have listened to each other you must come to some middle-of-the-road decision as how to do the things you will be needing to do. You will be deciding where the kids will be spending time at certain times as well as how to hand off the kids. This may be difficult since you are both reeling from the divorce but it is important to get through this and remember that this is for the kids. The kids should always be your main concern.
Stay Kid Focused – As I stated above you need to remain kid focused. If you don’t, you may get bogged down with the disagreements you have had with each other. You can’t let this happen; if you do you will fail at co-parenting. Remember that your kids need structure at this time and it is up to you and your ex to provide this.
Communicate – No matter what happens, you and your ex need to keep the lines of communication open for the kids’ sake. If you don’t, they will be harmed. Be careful to communicate about the kids as they, will try and play you off one another. It is important that if they try to do this you check with your ex to get the straight story.
Update – If for some reason you find out that something is not working then get together and talk about how you might make it better. Without constant communication between the two of you things could get out of hand pretty quickly.
Either way, focus on what is best for your kids and not just what you and your ex spouse want to do.