If you are facing divorce and have minor children, you may want to familiarize yourself with the term co-parenting. It is a term that is increasingly being used to describe the ideal approach couples should strive toward in order to minimize the negative effects divorce can have on their children.
In the U.S., about one million couples a year end their marriages in divorce. This shift in a family’s dynamic touches many aspects of a couple’s and their children’s lives, such as finances, health, careers, self-worth, social identity, emotional well-being, family rituals and traditions, estate planning and even how they express themselves on social media.
The emotional turmoil of divorce can make children especially vulnerable. Separation will change how families work, but if both parents are committed to what’s best for their kids by focusing on co-parenting, they can reduce the conflict and be a source of stability and comfort for them.
So, what does co-parenting look like? We often recommend that our client couples start with developing a comprehensive parenting plan. This will be a legally required part of their divorce process. For example, this plan will define exchange procedures, how to handle requests for parenting time modifications, solidifying what methods of communication used and much more. Read more here about the specifics of developing a parenting plan.
Remember that consistency is a big deal to your children’s health and well-being, especially as they adjust to living in two households. Things like being picked up from school at the same time every day, or having both parents attend their extracurricular activities will have a positive impact on your children’s sense of security.
Effective co-parenting also requires that each parent remains flexible when mix-ups happen. Schedules change, appointments are forgotten and sometimes communication breaks down. If both parents take the high road and find ways to move past these hiccups, the kids will benefit. Be proactive in getting back on track.
While marriages end, children still bind their parents together. Parents do not have to be friends, but respect for each other is essential for the health of any family. Civility between each other will keep communication productive.
However, if phone calls and text messages no longer work for you, don’t be disappointed. Divorce and co-parenting has its own unique set of stresses. Former communication methods can sometimes aggravate conflict rather than resolve it. We have found that couples often prefer using specialized communication platforms or apps, such as OurFamilyWizard, in order to better ensure co-parenting communication remains clear and respectful.
Ultimately, co-parenting is putting the needs and well-being of your children before everything. It is working honestly and openly with your co-parent to meet those needs in an effort to raise happy, healthy children. Giving your kids the stability they need to thrive requires the consistent cooperation and flexibility of their parents