Co-Parenting: Fostering Healthy Relationships
Co-Parenting is one of the most dreaded changes during divorce. How am I supposed to raise my children alongside the one person I can't get along with? For me this is one of the biggest challenges I faced after separation. Co-Parenting had a big influence in every decision I made during the divorce proceedings. It showed me that how I collaborate with my ex has a direct impact on the lives of my children.
The first decision I made when my ex and I parted ways, was to separate my issues with him "the husband", from him "the father". After all, not only has your world shattered, but your kids are suffering too. Their well being resides in your hands, and in every choice you make during and after the divorce. I realized that even if my ex was not going to be my husband anymore, he was still the father of my children. Respecting this fact is fundamental for the kids development, growth and emotional stability.
In order to achieve harmony in the life of your kids, you must learn to control anger and any resentment against your ex you're harboring inside. You must be aware of the fact that your children are always watching your every move and listening to every word coming out of your mouth. This behavior is not new, so you must refrain yourself from bad mouthing your ex. However this doesn't mean you need to praise your ex either. Just avoid expressing your opinions in front of the kids, that's what your friends are for.
It's also important that your kids feel loved and Parents Magazine has great ideas on how to make your kids feel special. You know you love them, but they don't and they need to hear it from you. Divorce takes away any sense of security your kids had, so now it's your responsibility to build it back up. I know it sounds like an impossible task when you can't even find your own footing. This is the moment you need to be strong because the emotional security of your children depends on it.
Time sharing is hard at the beginning for you and the kids. As it's hard for you to spend time on your own without your kids, it's hard for them to live in two different places with two different sets of rules and costumes. My 10 year old daughter said to me, "switching from house to house every other week gets better". I immediately asked why, and she said "because you start to see the good side of it, you get to experiment different parts of town, and you get to see a different side of your parents". It always amaze me how much wisdom can fit into a tiny 10 year old brain.
If you have school age children it's always important to spend quality time together, anything is good as long as you do it together. If you have older kids be open to listen when they ask questions. Let them express their concerns, listen to them and make them feel that their input and feelings are valid. Always be honest and if you can't have full disclosure with them, explain that there are things they will understand when they are older. Believe me they will appreciate it more than a little white lie.
If you have kids, Co-Parenting will be at the center of your family's life. The quality of your children's lives depend on the relationship you maintain with your ex and the effort you put in reassuring your children they are loved. This will be an everyday task, you will have to make adjustments as your children get older. Remember no matter the age, your kids need to be able to voice their concerns and find answers to their questions. If you get this right, your kids will be forever grateful that divorce did not shatter their childhood and they got to enjoy a healthy relationship with both their parents.
Thru my divorce I discovered I am a teacher, a writer and a loving mother. I want my story to inspire you and fill you up with hope so you too can get to the other side of the tunnel.