Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It can actually be the start of a great relationship. If you and your ex can transition from relationship to friendship, and treat each other with the utmost respect, then you can absolutely raise well-adjusted kids with co-parenting. In fact, you can better prepare them than most. After all, you are living proof that getting things wrong and trying something new can still work out and that relationships aren’t doomed.
Yes, being great co-parents can make kids a bit confused. They may wonder why you aren’t together since you act so well together. It will be a long conversation about how you two are better as parent partners than romantic partners, but eventually, your kids will come to understand the nuance in that difference and respect co-parenting themselves.
Co-parenting well can be a truly powerful way forward for families. To get started on your own respectful co-parenting journey, follow this guide:
1. Work Out Your Issues
Sometimes all it takes is acknowledging that a relationship is over to start healing it. You may never trust your partner romantically again after they cheat on you, for example, but that doesn’t mean you move on from co-parenting. It’s not easy, however. That’s why it’s so important to work out your issues.
You can and should do this both in individual therapy and even in special divorce counseling. This divorce counseling is basically a couple’s counseling, but rather than trying to keep you together, it helps you negotiate your relationship and boundaries so you can be respectful of each other in co-parenting situations.
2. Learn How to do Co-Parenting
Once you are both at a stage where you can start working together, you’ll then want to look into co-parenting classes and guides. A great place to start is Two Healthy Homes – Co-Parenting Advice resources. They even have full parallel online courses, so you can both take the class on your own time.
Co-parenting is similar to being co-workers, only your client is your child, and the stakes are much higher. A great working relationship is far easier to establish than a great romantic one, so keep that in mind as you navigate this relationship shift.
3. Be Respectful of Your Child’s Feelings
Divorce is a major upheaval for kids. It’ll likely result in anger and moodiness and even make your kids mean – but it’s temporary. If you’re struggling, look into emotionally intelligent, gentle parenting.
The crux of this style of parenting is acknowledging how your child feels and helping them work through those emotions together. After divorce, it can be the best way to say, “Hey, I know this sucks, and you’re scared about how it will change things, but I want to work together with you to make it even better than before”.
4. Be Active Co-Parents
You need to be able to go to the same events together. You need to be able to work out how you’re going to punish your kid if they do something terrible or what you both want to decide about something.
This means you’re going to talk – a lot. Do this together, over the phone, or even during weekly meetings where you both go get a coffee and debrief. Doing it together is how you’ll be awesome, consistent parents that can help your kids absolutely thrive.