In many cases after divorce, people would like nothing more than to never talk to their ex-spouses again. Those who have children cannot simply ignore their ex-spouses after divorce, however. Under many Pennsylvania child custody arrangements, both parents spend time with the children. Therefore, parents need to learn how to have a relationship with their ex-spouses that allows them to raise their children together. People can follow steps to make co-parenting after divorce more successful.
Focus on the child
Parents should remind themselves to put their children’s needs first. Parents who can put their own issues aside and focus on their children’s interests when they interact with their ex-spouses are often the most successful at co-parenting after divorce. Children need consistent and clear rules, and parents need to be able to talk to one another and provide that consistency for their children.
Abstain from fighting in front of children
Children can sense when their parents are upset, and parents who argue constantly can damage a child’s sense of well-being. It can hurt a child to see two people whom the child loves attack each other. Similarly, parents should avoid making disparaging comments about the other in front of their children. A child may start to think that something is wrong with him or her, since the parent is part of the child.
Parents need to make efforts to talk to each other so that they are each fully informed about the important events in their children’s lives. Parents should update each other on medical issues and appointments, school activities, parent-teacher conferences and academic performance.
Open communication is also critical when trying to plan schedules. Parents should try to plan vacations and holidays well in advance, if possible, so they do not need to try and juggle plans at the last minute in already busy and stressful times of the year. If last-minute changes to the regular parenting schedule need to happen, the parent needing the change should inform the other parent as soon as possible.
Communication between parents should not include using children as messengers. Children can feel caught in the middle of their parents’ disagreements if they are forced to act as go-betweens.
Parents who find it difficult to speak with each other in person or over the phone may want to consider using electronic means of communication rather than speaking through their children. Using email or text messages allows parents to remain focused on the issue at hand, and it is less likely that they will stray into topics that lead to arguments.
Parents who make efforts to cooperate with their ex-spouses often find co-parenting after divorce easier. They realize that unexpected occurrences happen, requiring changes to parenting schedules. Parents who are flexible when their ex-spouses request alternative schedules from time to time often find their ex-spouses are similarly accommodating when they need to make changes.
Talk to an attorney
Child custody issues are often emotionally charged and can seem overwhelming to parents. Parents do not need to face these matters alone. If you have questions about child custody matters, speak with a seasoned child custody attorney who can advise you of your options.