Even after the divorce, you and the other parent still have the duty of parenting your children. This should remain a priority for both of you.
Things to Note when Co-Parenting
Generally, these are some things you and the other parent can do to prioritise your children’s well-being. This will help your children better adjust to the divorce:
- It is common for children to want their parents to get back together again. It will take time for them to transition.
- You may wish to gently help your children understand that although you and the other parent are no longer husband and wife, you and the other parent will always be their parents. (E.g. You can tell your children that you and the other parent have problems that cannot be solved, but that they do not have anything to do with your children.)
- Assure your children constantly that you and the other parent will continue to love them.
- Keep the arrangements stable and consistent where possible as this will reduce anxiety and worry for your children.
- Having clear parenting arrangements will help prevent any misunderstanding or confusion between you and the other parent, and with your children.
- Unexpected things may happen. It may be useful to think about how each parent can be flexible to contribute when needed. One example is even though a parent may only see the children on weekends, he/she can still help with the children’s homework or send the children to the doctor if they fall ill during the weekdays. You may find more information on coming up with parenting arrangements here.
- You will need to communicate with the other parent for matters relating to your children. Keep your communication respectful and keep arguments, disagreements and conflict away from your children.
- Do not use your children to pass messages to each other as it puts them in the middle. This can burden and stress your children.
- It would be best if both parents can be consistent with discipline and rules as much as possible. For example, having similar rules on mealtimes, curfews, bedtimes, homework, and off-limit activities when the children are with either parent.
- Try to reach an agreement with the other parent on how to manage your children’s behaviours. This will avoid confusion for the children.
- Children may develop behavioural problems because of inconsistency in the discipline they receive.
- Co-parenting also involves being mindful of how your children may still want to keep in touch with extended family members, especially family members of the parent whom they do not live with.
- Where possible, make arrangements for your children to continue spending time with significant extended family members, such as grandparents.
- At times, extended family members may act in a way which increases tension or conflict in your family. You may wish to share the parenting rules that you and the other parent have established with your extended family. (e.g. no bad-mouthing the other parent, not to use your children as a ‘messenger’ or a ‘spy’).
- If your children are being negatively affected by the words and actions of another family member, speak to your family members and remind them to be mindful of their behaviour. If it involves family members of the other parent, cooperation between you and the other parent will be needed to address the matter.
Jacinta (aged 45) and her husband worked out a co-parenting arrangement that their children adjusted well to after the divorce. The arrangement allowed the children to continue spending time with both parents and made minimal changes to the children’s routines.Read More