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Co-parenting can be overwhelming and stressful. With the exception of substance abuse issues or domestic violence, it is essential for both parents to play a role in the child’s life. It may be difficult for you to trust that your ex-partner’s parenting abilities are as fit and qualified as yours are. You may question their ability to parent or be responsible, especially if past wounds from infidelity are not yet healed and you are dealing with the paramour being part of your child’s life. It may also be frustrating to involve your ex and his or her relationship in parenting if you are stressed out about financial issues or child support. Regardless of your marriage being over, it is good to remember that your family is not.
There can be severe long-term negative effects on a child’s mental health when one or both parents attempt to alienate the other. Please refer to our previous blog on parental alienation for more information on that topic. It is vital that both parents act in their children’s best interests. Co-parenting takes maturity, self-sacrifice and a bigger vision for the sake of giving your children a better future. When both parents choose to co-parent in a healthy way their children adapt more quickly to their circumstances. Good coparenting also enables the children to feel more secure when adjusting to your single parent status.
Children need consistency and a healthy example to follow. By establishing healthy lines of communication with your ex-spouse and working to resolve issues and not dig up past wounds, you set a clear example for your child to understand problem solving. Children will grow up feeling more equipped with managing emotional skills when they experience their parents do the same. Children can be exposed to conflict between parents but they are less likely to develop anxiety, ADHD or depression if they can see how parents resolve conflicts and learn the same healthy behaviors and communication skills.
Try to remember to set your anger and hurt aside from your parenting skills. Yes, we know, easier said than done! Remember that your children not only learn from observing your behavior, they also learn to replicate it. Sometimes, even if one parent is falling short, you can choose to be the bigger person and remain consistent in your stability. Remember that parenting isn’t about the parent per se, but about how each decision that you make, your attitude and your ability to forgive will directly influence our children.
Finding higher levels of coping mechanisms is very important. In times of high stress, permit yourself to take a moment to try practicing mindfulness or other breathing exercises. Seeking out a therapist to talk to when you are feeling overwhelmed or angry can truly help keep the peace in a home. That same peace and continuity will determine your child’s mental health and emotional stability. Parents have a tendency to send their children to therapy when they are ‘acting up’ when they themselves might actually be creating the unhealthy atmosphere which produces a child to act out.
Furthermore, try to keep the communication between you and your ex-spouse strictly issues about parenting your child(ren). It is important to listen and keep open lines of communication to discuss problems that may arise. If you both are not capable of doing so, sometimes hiring a mediator or parenting coach can be beneficial. Please review our website and previous blogs for additional information on mediation and how it may help your situation. Other useful tools for co-parenting may be advised by your attorney, such as keeping a google calendar for scheduling your child’s activities, school events, doctors appointments, parent-teacher meetings and drop-off routines.