Co-parenting can be challenging. One of the challenges is two parents attempting to manage their child/children while living separately. Each parent has their own rules and perspectives that may or may not align with the other. This may be manageable for some and challenging or frustrating for others. The common goal at the end of the day should be to align with the best interest of the child. This blog will highlight some tips for parents who are on the co-parenting journey.
1. Keep the focus on the child in ALL that you do. Before you react, think of how this action will impact your child.
2. Don’t triangulate your child. This phrase means, don’t involve them in your adult matters. Don’t give them information to pass on to the other parent. Don’t speak poorly about the other parent or allow other family members speak to negatively about the other parent in the presence of the child. Lastly, don’t vent to your child concerning the other parent. Do not discuss the custody order or the establishment of custody.
3. If necessary, designate a mediator to help with drop-offs, pick up’s and communication. Some parents find it easier to use a neutral party to communicate through. Both parents need to agree with the assignment of the designated party. An example of this can be a mutual friend, a godparent, a grandparent, etc.,
4. Don’t respond or engage in negativity. It takes two to argue. Refrain from engaging in what is not positive or beneficial to you or your child.
5. If possible, try to maintain a similar schedule to make the transition easier for the child. An example of this is keeping a similar bedtime, diet, etc., Remember, routine and consistency create a smoother transition for the child to adjust between both homes.
6. Be flexible. Remember, your child is splitting their time as well. They may miss out on holidays, family traditions, their friends, events, parties, and family gatherings. Be patient, this could affect the child as well.
7.Consider individual therapy if you are still dealing with mixed emotions concerning the other parent or adjusting to co-parenting.
8. Consider couples therapy to work on building co-parenting skills or check in with the other parent to see if they are open to the idea of a few sessions to increase your healthy communication skills.
Tips for dealing with your child during shared custody/parenting
1. Give your child time to adjust to returning home. Begin with a fun activity to allow them the time to get acclimated to returning home. An example is dancing, going to the movies, arts n' crafts, swimming, etc.,
2. Remind your child of the rules of your home and remind them of the rewards and consequences. It’s okay to give warnings the first day they return home. Returning home is an adjustment and 'finding a new normal' can be a challenge. If you do not have one, create a behavior chart that shows the one mentioned above. (check out our website under the resources tab for a chart)
3. Allow your child to express their feelings about you or the other parent.
4. Refrain from joining in any negative talk they may have regarding the other parent. You can actively listen without joining in.
5. Consider enrolling them in therapy to help deal with this adjustment and/or their feelings surrounding the separation or the transition.
6. Encourage them to talk out any differences they may have with the other parent. (A therapist can help you navigate what this looks like.) This may be through talking or writing a letter. If they have a therapist, you can also encourage them to discuss this with their therapist or you can talk to the therapist regarding your concerns or the information your child has shared with you.
Please be mindful the suggestions and tips within this blog don’t replace any orders made in a custody agreement enforced by Family Law or any other legal documents you have signed. You will always follow that order unless otherwise advised by your legal counsel.