Millennials have been accused of many things, including killing the napkin and golf industries. But they’re also responsible for a few good trends, including a drop in the divorce rate.
Despite this, hundreds of thousands of Americans still get divorced each year. And while divorce is always painful and awkward, when there are kids in the mix, things get even more complicated.
Learning how to successfully co-parent your children can feel impossible. Unfortunately, failing to do so can have a devastating effect on your child’s future.
Keep reading to learn 5 rules you have to follow if you want to learn how cooperative coparenting.
1. Keep Your Split as Amicable as Possible
Truly successful coparenting starts as soon as you and your partner decide to split up.
Trying to amicably co-parent after going through a long and nasty divorce can be nearly impossible. Not only will you and your now-ex likely hold a grudge and be unable to be civil, but the animosity may also spill over between your children as well.
A divorce can already leave a child feeling hurt and confused. If that child also has to watch his or her parents constantly fight or be hateful towards one another, they may become angry themselves.
They may act out or be disrespectful towards you and their other parent.
Or they may become withdrawn and quiet. While experts think that many of these side effects won’t hurt your child in the long term, they can still be difficult to deal with and painful to watch as a parent.
That isn’t to say that you need to stick it out with a partner that you no longer get along with or have problems with. But what you can do is try to keep your divorce as civil as possible.
By doing so, you’ll set the stage for you and your ex to be friendly and respectful towards one another. If you can stay friends, you may even still be able to participate in outings together as a family.
This could mean monthly outings to local attractions, shared meals, or even something as simple as both parents being able to attend the child’s sporting games or school events.
After all, while you may no longer be married, you’ll always share a special bond as parents to your wonderful child or children.
2. Be Flexible
Splitting a family in half is difficult. You’re taking one shared schedule and splitting it in half. Your child will still need to go to school, soccer practice, and other obligations, but will suddenly be doing some of his or her activities with one parent and some with the other.
Unfortunately, kids’ schedules aren’t always a set thing. Practice times change from season to season. School obligations differ year to year and even week to week.
While it may be easier to try to set a strict schedule, defining down to the hour when your child will be with each parent, that simply isn’t practical.
If you can, try to be as flexible as possible about your coparenting schedule. Even if the courts have ordered that you follow a certain schedule, if something comes up, be willing to compromise.
For instance, if your ex wants to take your kids to a festival, which means keeping them an extra night that should be your night with your kids, consider it. If its something that you know your kids will enjoy and it doesn’t interfere with plans you already have, let your ex take them.
And hopefully, the next time you want to change the schedule and keep the kids a bit longer, your ex will be flexible as well.
You should still set a general plan for your parenting schedule. If you’re doing most of the parenting, your ex needs to make up for the difference with child support.
Learn more about child custody law and your rights as a parent here.
3. Choose Your Battles
Even if you and your ex shared a certain parenting style while married, things are bound to change after a divorce.
You may find that your ex is suddenly laxer with bedtimes, or dress codes, or other rules.
While it is important to give your kids structure, you don’t want to be fighting your ex over every little issue that you have. Instead, choose your battles carefully. Talk to him or her about any big problems that you’re worried about, but learn to let some of the smaller ones go.
It may not hurt your kids in the long run if they get to stay up an extra hour later on weekends at their dad’s house. But it will hurt them if they see that their parents are constantly arguing about them while together.
4. Never Use Your Kids as Go-Betweens
One of the worst things you can do as co-parents is to use your kids to communicate.
Even though it may be awkward or even painful to speak to your ex, especially right after your divorce, you need to keep an open line of communication with him or her for your kids’ sake.
The only things you have to talk about is your children’s’ care. You can keep your conversations short and to the point. But you do need to have these talks.
Using your kids as middle-men to talk to your ex is a big mistake. It leaves too much room for miscommunication and puts your children in a difficult position when talking about important issues.
5. Keep Goodbyes Happy
Whether your kids spend just a few days with your ex every few months or you split time evenly, the last thing you want to do is make the exchange any more painful than it needs to be.
This is especially important immediately after a divorce, or if you have small children.
Never cry or cling to your child while passing them off to their mom or dad. This will give your child even more anxiety about the situation than they may already have.
Instead, keep the exchange as short as possible, and stay positive. Remind your child that you will see him or her soon, and tell them to have fun. After all, your ex is still your child’s parent, and they should never dread visiting him or her.
It may take some soul-searching to keep yourself positive and happy during your divorce. But doing so can help minimize the pain that your children feel during the process.
Learning Cooperative Coparenting
Cooperative coparenting doesn’t have to be difficult. By learning and following these 5 simple rules, you can learn how to parent with your ex, no matter the reasons you chose to divorce in the first place.
If you’ve recently split from your husband or wife and are coparenting with them now, you might suddenly find yourself with a lot more free time to spend on your own.
Check out these tips to learn how to live a full, happy life when you’re alone.