As a divorced Christian father or mother, you must make the conscious choice to co-parent and do what you can in the best interest of your child or children. While you and the other parent may be unable to live together any longer, you should maintain a principled approach to co-parenting and set a good example for your kids.
Here are 6 tips on how to co-parent in a way that serves everyone’s best interests.
1. Move Past Your Former Marriage and the Divorce
Tip 1 is to focus on the future instead of the past. You need to look beyond the marriage and separation.
Unfortunately, couples divorce for a variety of reasons and it can be a difficult period of adjustment. It is even harder when a child or children are in the mix. You and your ex-partner need to be in contact with each other due to that lifelong connection.
Remember that, when it comes to divorce, it is almost never the fault of only one party. It tends to be a mix of issues that both have contributed to.
When the decision has been made to get a divorce, assigning blame doesn’t help anyone. It is a waste of energy and it leads to resentment. Instead, try to focus on the good qualities of the other person. If they are a good father or mother, focus on that!
2.Never Speak Poorly About the Other Parent to the Child
Avoid talking poorly about the other parent in front of the kids. This can make them feel uneasy. Anything you need to communicate with the other parent should be done with them directly.
You may not like something that parent did, but don’t put it on the shoulders of your child. They should never have the burden of adult responsibilities passed on to them. Children shouldn’t be used to get revenge or to hurt each other.
Don’t post negative messages through social media either. You don’t have to say your ex-spouses name for everyone to get who you are talking about. This creates more issues and doesn’t resolve anything. Focus on staying positive and rebuilding your life as a single parent.
3. Communicate in a Sensible, Respectful Way
Effective communication is essential for co-parenting to be successful. If the two of you can’t do this without conflict or tension, get a neutral third party involved. A facilitator can help you to create a parenting plan you are both happy with. It can help you learn better ways to communicate with each other.
If you can’t communicate well, at least establish some ground rules. For example, no fighting or discussing important issues in front of the kids. Try to meet at a location where you both feel at ease. This can be a coffee shop or even at the park. Communicate by email or text if you can’t talk face to face.
Don’t ask someone else to do the communicating for you. This includes anyone else either of you dates, the kids, family members, or mutual friends. Schools and other organizations should have contact information for both parents. This allows them to stay informed without relying on the other to make sure they get those details.
4. Come Up With an Agreed Visitation Schedule and Parenting Plan
The courts prefer parents to work out their own visitation schedules and parenting plans. And there is help if you just can’t work it out informally. Technology is improving in this area, with co-parents now having the ability to generate custody schedules and parenting plans just by answering a series of simple questions.
There are times when parents don’t have contact due to issues such as domestic violence. There may be a restraining order in place. In such a scenario, a community agency may need to step in to help with exchanging the children.
5. Establish Clear Rules in Both Homes
Be realistic about parenting and rules in the homes. Your children have plenty to adjust to the changes and the divorce. Don’t try to be the favorite parent by letting them stay up later or have more TV time. Try to create a plan that keeps the kids on the same type of schedule overall no matter which parent they are with during that time.
6. Be Flexible
The last tips is to be flexible. There may be events that come up which you would like to take your children to. However, they fall during the other parent’s time with them. Ask if you can make some changes to the schedule and why.
Likewise, there will be times when the other parent would like to do something with them during your assigned parenting time. Being flexible helps you and your ex get along. It also gives your children a chance to have quality time with each parent.
Final Thoughts on Christian Co-Parenting
Divorce is tough to get through, but it isn’t the end of the world. When you have children, doing your best to be amicable and co-parent makes a difference and will keep you on the right path.
Strive to establish clear rules for the children to follow in both homes. Do your best to be flexible too when the other parent makes a request. It helps keep everyone on the same page and getting along.
The children need to see their parents both love them. They need to see they have support all around them. A united front is going to help children recover from divorce and help both parents heal too.
FURTHER READING: Co-Parenting Tips and Strategies