Post-divorce parenting: How to make it work

A divorce is a difficult process for everyone. But when going through a divorce with children, some of the most challenging work happens after the divorce. You and your former spouse need to negotiate how you will parent separately as co-parents.

Accepting different parenting styles

You and your former spouse may have very different styles of parenting. Remember that you probably cannot change the way your co-parent is parenting, so you need to learn to accept it. Your children may actually benefit from experience two different parenting approaches. As long as your children are safe with their other parent, it is important to do your best to accept the differences.

Communicate with the co-parent

It might be a challenge but when it comes to your children it is important to keep the lines of communication between you and your former spouse open. It can be helpful to have standing appointment to check-in with your co-parent through phone, e-mail, or in person, so that you have a chance to discuss schedules and other issues related to your children.

It is also important to have a parenting schedule so that everyone, including the children, is always clear about who is in charge at any given time. But it will serve you well in the long run if you can be somewhat flexible with the schedule. If you are flexible when your former spouse needs to change plans, he or she may be more likely to show you the same consideration.

Encourage family relationships

You might not get along with your former spouse anymore, but that doesn't mean that your child should feel the same way. As difficult as it may be, you need to put aside your feelings and put what is best for your child first. Encourage your child's relationship with your co-parent. It is not helpful to your child to hear your frustration about your former spouse. Children often feel badly when their parents say negative things about their other parent because they may feel that they have similar traits to that parent.

Additionally, if your child has a healthy relationship with your former spouse's parents and extended family, do your best to encourage it. Being taken out of these relationships could be harmful to your child.

Getting on the right track

The first step toward successful co-parenting after divorce is to get the help of an informed attorney during the divorce process. An attorney can look out for your needs and the best interests of your children to negotiate with your former spouse for a custody plan, and an experienced divorce lawyer can help you advocate for a favorable outcome from the beginning.