When a couple with minor children gets divorced, they face areas of adversity that childless divorcees or those with children who are of legal age will never know. Co-parenting may become the new reality for parents after divorce.
The couples that make it work are willing to make some minor concessions, create a plan that works for the children, and stick to it. There are do’s and don’ts to follow when creating a co-parenting plan that will benefit the children and accommodate both parents’ schedules.
- Consider your child’s situation: What will their new life be like? How much travel will be involved? Will it interfere with the child’s usual routine? Young children thrive with stability, so limiting distractions will benefit any child involved in a divorce.
- Think about proximity: When you and your partner divorce, one or both of you may move out of the prior residence. If you do, how is this going to impact your children? Will they be able to attend the same school and be around their friends? Will you be able to keep using the babysitter your children are used to seeing? These are all important questions.
- Talk with your spouse about letting your children speak their minds: Especially if your children are older and have a very detailed routine, they may have an opinion on their new schedule or bring up a good point that neither of you had considered.
- Special needs: Does your child have special needs? If so, that must be addressed and planned around when considering your new home, custody arrangements, and any other change in their schedule and routine.
- Don’t focus on your convenience: Parenting is hard work. Making the co-parenting plan convenient only for you can create stress between you and your ex-spouse. Successful and amicable co-parents learn how to compromise together to ensure your children’s best interests are met.
- Store away the need to win and seek revenge: Co-parenting shouldn’t be a competition; focus on the children’s best interests. Believe that your ex is also making the necessary concessions to make the plan work. If your ex makes a mistake a couple of times, try to avoid seeking revenge and resentment, because we all make mistakes. The time will come when you will likely have an issue (flat tire, stuck at work, etc.) that will interfere with the pick-up plan or cause your ex-spouse to pick up the slack. It happens. But if the errors become constant, it’s time for a more serious conversation.
- Don’t belittle the other parent: Some parents don’t think so, but both parents have strengths that can help their children grow. Children should be able to rely on both of their parents. Most parents can learn new skills if offered the opportunity.
Lastly, don’t say yes to a schedule with “assumed conditions”. If your ex has to move to your child’s current school district, make sure the move is complete before agreeing to the co-parenting schedule. As stated above, successful co-parents stick to the plan only make concessions when necessary.