10 Effective Co-Parenting Guidelines
Co-parenting can be difficult, I've found if we implement these basic fundamental guidelines in establishing and forming a new relationship with your ex, you're able to navigate uncharted territories.
1. Detach yourself from your ex-spouse;
The intimate relationship is over, you have decided you no longer wish to be with this person. This means stop holding out hope that they will change, see the light and or come back as a new person. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can move on. Think of all the reasons you left and recall them every time you feel nostalgic. The faster you move on, put your feeling aside, the quicker you can heal and foster a healthy relationship with your ex to communicate regarding your child. On the flip side of the coin, if you're the parent that was left, deal with your hurt, anger, resentment and frustration but do not take it out on your child and use them as a weapon to retaliate against your ex.
2. Be the responsible adult;
You have a decision to make here, only you can determine what kind of person you will be now that you're a single parent. Set goals for yourself and your family. Leave the past in the past and start fresh. No more negative talk, rehashing arguments and harboring ill feelings, bring positive vibes, love, light and strength into your life.
3. Spare them the details;
Letting your child know that life has become extremely difficult as a single parent is inappropriate. Do not place the weight of the world on your child's shoulders. Children are fragile in respect to grown up issues. They will feel like a burden, it's their fault, you're crushing their spirit. Never ask them for help, your child is just that, a child. Remember you're the grown up, act like one.
4. Don't force your children to choose sides;
Never ask your children to choose sides and or certain family members. Your children should be able to continue to interact with both sets of families. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, don't make this a competition don't compare what family members do, a healthy environment should be fostered for your child to raise their self esteem and confidence.
5. Have a positive tone when you talk to your children about your ex;
This might be excruciatingly difficult however when you look into your child's eyes, know that every time you mention disparaging remarks about your ex you chip away at their soul. Children need to respect their parents, in order to get respect we must give respect.
You might be saying, "my ex talks down about me all the time", this isn't about what he/she said so you can retaliate, the "my child must know" attitude. No, if anything your child will loose respect for you. When speaking ill about your ex, children see everything and understand beyond the scope of what we think they are comprehending. Don't think you're defending yourself, if anything you will start building hostility and that is first step in loosing respect for the parent.
6. Don't make your children your messenger;
Asking your child to relay a message to your ex is inappropriate and uncalled for, your child isn't a carrier pigeon. Now a days we have Family Wizard, snail mail, email, text, direct phone call and or attorneys communicating on our behalf but never have your child as a bridge to your ex for dialogue exchange. Not even for the small things, do not place them in the middle.
7. Set limits and expectations for your children;
Some children are very skillful at setting their parents against each other. Don’t fall into this trap, talk to your ex. This is the time when you and your ex must stand in unison regarding expectations with your child.
Share with your children what they need to do when it comes to school, homework, household chores, bedtime, and so on. Your expectations must be clear and reasonable, try to get your ex on board. Children thrive with consistency, they might not like it but it's important to have structure in their lives.
8. Remain open to communication;
Be open to hearing your child out and validate their emotions. Don't tell them how they should feel, they're an individual with raw emotions and need guidance. Work out what they are expressing, listen to them and most importantly don't judge!
9. Have your child feel secure;
Your home is safe, warm, caring, nurturing and much more. Home must be a place where your children are respected and taken care of, a place where love and acceptance are shown and responsibility is taught.
Even if your ex doesn't foster this concept, that's ok, your home is where your child will receive this.
10. Learn to rebound;
Lead by example, when times are tough you'll be able to pull through rough patches together, without falling apart. Let your child see the beauty in the world, let them know everything happens for a reason and it's up to us as individuals to make it a positive or negative experience.
The world is already a cruel place, with everything that's going on, uncertainties, uncontrollable circumstance, allow your child to be and feel comfortable at home. They don't need the added stress of their parents messy separation, navigating co-patenting issues or any other grown up issue that arises.
I know, understand and realize the hard truth, that when leaving an ex many things have occurred and mostly the communication has broken down.
What's left behind is bitterness, hurt, bruised ego, pride, whatever the rationalism, all of these personal issues must be placed aside so you two can communicate. If anything as parents you should be in unison regarding your child because your one goal in this life is to raise a happy, healthy, well adjusted child in a peaceful setting.
Remember children learn from the examples you set, grow from what they see and hear, allow your child to experience their childhood, have fun and to be a child, don't steal that from them.