So, you’ve found yourself in a situation where it’s time to start a co-parenting relationship. Maybe you were with your child or children’s other parent for a while in a relationship or marriage and are now dealing with divorce. Perhaps your beautiful baby is the result of friends with benefits. These days, there are so many different definitions of the traditional family that sharing custody of your child or children doesn’t mean it has to be resentful and contentious.
Of course, suppose there are situations regarding abuse or neglect. In that case, you want to make sure you are protecting your children and yourself from those types of people – consult professional legal and medical help in those instances. But, if you find yourself in the average position of sharing custody of children with someone, it’s always the best idea to keep things as amicable and respectful as possible. Let’s look at how we can accomplish that as quickly as possible.
Recognize Why You’re Separated
One of the things that can hold people back from effectively co-parenting is because they hold onto the reasons why they and their children’s other parents didn’t work out. It is in your best interest and, more importantly, the best interest of your children to put this behind you. The situation is no longer about you and your ex, it’s about the kids and them seeing you two getting along like two respectful and loving adults. So, if you need to speak with a therapist to get past the issues of the relationship, do it not only for yourself but for your children. Then you can keep your thoughts only on raising your beautiful family in its newer form moving forward.
Treat Yourself In Your “You” Time
Transitioning to spending time away from your children can be highly difficult when you first start your new parenting journey. Those first nights or weekends, or even weeks depending on your custody arrangement, are incredibly challenging for most parents that are used to seeing their children on a daily basis. So, prioritize doing things that give you peace and make you happy when they’re away from you.
Whether that looks like snuggling up in bed alone with a good book you’re usually too exhausted to read, treating yourself to that new Sofia Vergara perfume you’ve been wanting, or just simply allowing yourself to sleep in until ten am the next day. The important thing is to remember that you can use this time to wallow and be angry, or you can take care of yourself, nurture your spirit and get to know yourself again. Choose the latter!
Communication Is Key
When we realize we don’t work as a traditional couple, we can more easily communicate with the other parent. When you’re sharing a household and day-to-day responsibilities, you become resentful because of finances and chores and everything else, and there is a massive communication breakdown. Take this new lifestyle as an opportunity to view your co-parent as another adult that you can communicate with effectively and respectfully. Let go of past resentments and remember that your children’s safety, health, and most importantly, love is the priority, not any irritation. Let it go like Elsa and become a master communicator. Your children will benefit from this display of emotional maturity as well.
Continue Family Traditions Where You Can
Once you reach a level of friendship with your child’s parents, it’s essential to continue to function as a family as much as you can. Even if you and your ex move on and date or marry new people in the future, it’s beneficial (especially if your children are still small) to do things as a family the way you used to. This can be as simple as a dinner or activity a couple of times a month to sharing holidays. There are families where both parents and their new spouses all spend Christmas Eve under the same roof if you can believe it!
No matter the reason you find yourself in this new situation, it’s beneficial if you can try to take the high road from the very beginning. Let go of resentments and try to treat the other parent the way you want to be treated. Showing acts of love, compassion, and kindness benefits everyone involved, most importantly your child. And, remember, that co-parenting never has to be an ugly situation if you don’t want it to be. Here’s to your health and happiness!