Written by Jonathan Breeden
Here’s the thing about getting a divorce, separating, or just moving on when you have kids: Like it or not, you and the other parent are still a team. To give your kids what they deserve, you have to act like one.
Doing that can be difficult, if not impossible, when you have a lot of conflict with the other parent. But even if you don’t like each other, you need to be consistent, have open lines of communication, work together, and be kind to one another. Kids need a strong parenting team. It’s your job to give that to them.
Consistency is key. Mottos like this and the advice below really matter when it comes to being a parenting team after a divorce or separation.
Communication is complex after a divorce. If you were already great at communicating, you probably wouldn’t have split up in the first place. But now is the time to work on this skill – for your kids’ sake. Children need to see their parents communicate well with each other. This helps them feel secure and form healthy relationships as they grow up.
It also helps you make shared decisions for your children that you and the other parent are both comfortable with. For instance, you need to agree on major decisions about how the children will be educated, when and how they’re going to go to church, and the medical care they’re going to receive.
Parenting is a tough job – period. Doing it without the other parent’s help is much more challenging. If you and your ex don’t work together, you both face an uphill battle as you try to raise your child separately. On top of that, your child doesn’t get the benefit of having a two-parent team backing them at all times.
Not getting along, not speaking, ignoring each other, or blocking each other’s phone numbers will not help your children. They need their parents to raise them to be the best they can be. But if the parents aren’t being the best they can be, they will never help the children.
As hard as it can be, you need to try to be open-minded to your ex’s point of view on parenting matters. And they need to do the same for you.
Never bully or belittle the other parent – even if the kids aren’t looking. Treating your ex poorly may feel good to you, but it adds fuel to the fire to make it nearly impossible for you both to work together to raise healthy, happy children.
If you have a high-conflict relationship with your child’s other parent, it’s often best to communicate in writing whenever possible. That way, no one misinterprets or misremembers something the other says. This can help everyone to stay grounded and level-headed.
Text messages and emails are often fine for this purpose. But if the conflict is particularly intense, you might want to consider apps like OurFamilyWizard that are designed to help co-parents communicate well.
You may be exes, but you are also co-parents. Each of you brings strengths to your children that your children need. Each of you brings strengths to this partnership that enable you to make the right decisions for your kids – as a parenting team. So, work together even when it’s hard.
To reduce conflicts and confusion, many separated parents work out a detailed child custody agreement. For help with your child custody agreement, speak with the attorneys at the Breeden Law Office today.