A divorced couple does not necessarily mean a broken family. Unlike common perception a couple who decides to live separately and divorce does not necessarily become two separate people with no responsibilities. Even when they are not man and wife anymore they continue to be parents to their children and they can be loving and responsible parents like they were before. With co-parenting, you can provide your children with the family that they need. Let’s have a look at what co-parenting looks like.
A comparative research conducted by Dr. Linda Nielsen, a professor of Adolescent and Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University concludes that children in shared physical custody families—with the exception of situations where children need protection from an abusive or negligent parent—have better outcomes across a variety of measures of well-being than do children in sole physical custody.1</sup<
What does co-parenting look like?
A lot of the urban couples are getting a divorce because of certain issues. But with the passage of time, people have realised that just because their marriage could not work out for the best, that doesn’t mean they are bad parents. In such cases, couples opt for co-parenting, so that their children do not have to bear the brunt of separation.
Co-parenting by definition is an initiative that a lot of couples take after their divorce so that their children can get the best of both the parents.
Unless one of the partners in a marriage has faced grave issues like substance abuse, domestic abuse or sexual abuse, both the partners may decide on active participation in their children’s lives and not let their children suffer at any cost.
12 Co-Parenting Rules For Divorced Couples
The importance of co-parenting is more essential than you can imagine. Co-parenting ensures mental and emotional well-being of the children. The highest and the sole purpose of co-parenting is to give the children the life they deserve. This means the parents have to keep their private problems aside and focus on the children. To do so, certain rules need to be followed. Keep reading to know the 12 important rules of co-parenting, which will eventually answer the question: “Is a divorced family still a family?”
1. Put your pain and anger aside
You might be wondering, should you stay together for your children’s sake? The answer is, no. Chances are that you and your partner ended up in a divorce because of not-so-amicable reasons, which is why staying together even for the children’s sake may seem out of question, but you need to remember that a bad husband or wife does not necessarily mean a bad parent.
Co-parenting rules suggest that you put the pain and anger of all things that went wrong in a box and focus on healthy parenting for your children. If your children find you constantly fighting and throwing tantrums at each other, it will create unnecessary childhood trauma that will be extremely difficult for your children to recover from. The most important rule of co-parenting is to confine all your anger to the bedroom and not in front of your children.
2. Don’t drag your children into your issues
Parents, those kids in the house are your children. They are not your messengers. You need to know better than dragging your children into your marital issues for successful co-parenting. Do not put your children at the centre of your conflicts.
That being said, you need to avoid talking anything negative about each other to your children as well. Prepare your kids for a divorce but do not forget your spouse is a parent to the kids too. Your children deserve the love of both their parents, and they should not be influenced or biased towards one parent just because they bad mouthed their ex. Free your children from your influence and let them decide their feelings for their respective parents.
3. Communicate more with each other
You do not have to talk about your past or anything that went wrong, but you do need to communicate with each other about things that matter. You can call this co-parenting boundaries.
It may seem impossible, especially in the case of a bad divorce, but you need to remind yourself of the primary and the most important purpose of communication: your children. Yes, you are divorced as a couple, but you have to be on the same team as parents.
If looking at each other’s face seems out of the question, communicate via texts and calls, but do it nonetheless. Make requests, really listen to each other and keep your conversations focused solely on your children.
4. Do not take important decisions without consulting each other
Yes, even if you know what’s best for your children. When it comes to important decisions like medical attention, education, financial situation, etc. do not take decisions regarding these without talking to your ex-partner about it.
Co-parenting is all about holistic growth for your children. Make sure you communicate with the other parent about any important decisions that is concerned with your children.
5. Set a realistic budget
Co-parenting boundaries are not only limited to communication. After a split, both parents might not have the same amount of financial stability. It is an important rule of co-parenting to be open about your financial situation and distribute finances accordingly, in terms of child maintenance and financial assistance.
If one parent pays for the child’s school tuition, the other looks after medical insurances and other expenses. Set a realistic budget for your children and put your ego aside. Financing is an important aspect of co-parenting rules, and it needs to be dealt with maturely, not with an ego of “I will pay more for my child.”
6. Don’t lie to your children about the divorce
Children can actually foresee their parents’ divorce. Every child deserves to know the truth about their parents. Do not lie to your children about your divorce. Instead, sit your children down and talk to them about your split and why it happened. Make it seem amicable and assure them that they will not be affected by it in any way.
Eventually, your children are going to question you about living separately and them having to divide their time between two houses. Being honest about it makes the process simpler and more successful.
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7. Support each other’s roles as parents of the children
Managing shared custody of kids requires both of you to be on the same page for the sake of the children. Children tend to fight with their parents, which is not unusual. However, you as a parent need to make sure that you do not let your bias or hatred towards your ex-partner influence your children’s thought process when they are complaining about their other parent to you.
Together or apart, your ex is still an equal parent to your children. You need to support each other and guide your children in the right direction and ensure that your children believe that both their parents love them and care for them in their own ways.
8. Establish certain ground rules
Another aspect of co-parenting boundaries: establishing ground rules. These ground rules are for both the parents and for the children as well. Set certain ground rules like nobody will bring personal matters into conversations regarding the children. Your toxic relationship can have profound impact on your child’s future life. Secondly, if the split was very terrible, then set a rule that most communications will only happen via text or emails. This will help you avoid digressing from the focus. Explain divorce to your children keeping in mind their age, not your issues.
Then comes ground rules about children. No parent should go out of their way to create favouritism among children. They will support each other no matter what. They will be good role models for their children and not treat each other as competitors. Creating these rules will ensure smooth flowing co-parenting.
9. Maintain consistency in routine for the children
An efficient routine is the best answer one can give for “what does co-parenting look like?” In an endeavour to be the better parent, you might give your children more liberty than they need. This means no midnight ice cream, no pizza for lunch and dinner, and no extra candies. This is an important part of co-parenting rules as the schedule of your children should not be disturbed by living in two different places in a short span.
To make sure a consistency in routine is maintained, sit together and decide a time table for you and the children that should be followed. Stick to that routine and make sure your children stick to it as well.
Related Reading: 8 Negative Effects Of Divorce On Children
10. Don’t fret from compromising sometimes
When it comes to making important decisions, you might not want to bow down, but this works against the co-parent definition. You may not like your ex, but you do have one or more children together. To dwell on your ego is possibly the worst parenting mistake you are making in this scenario. The highest and the most important purpose of co-parenting is to provide the benefit of both the parents to your children. Therefore, stick to that purpose.
This means compromising when you have to. If the mother has an important meeting, the father can compromise not attending a friend’s party. If the father is not able to cover the children’s tuition fees entirely, the mother can compromise and dig into her savings for the sake of her children’s education. Always think about the highest purpose and compromise when you have to. There can be nothing more beneficial in working out the co-parenting rules.
11. Acknowledge your children’s concerns
Your children might prefer staying with one parent more than the other. In such cases, they may cry about not wanting to go to other parent’s house. Do not see this as an opportunity to increase spite against your ex. Practice healthy co-parenting rules instead.
The importance of co-parenting is to acknowledge your children’s concerns and ask them what you can do to make the process easier. Assure them that they will have a great time at the other parent’s home and that they are lucky to have parents who love them so much. Always look after your child’s concerns and practice love.
Related Reading: When a Child Taught Me Something About Divorce
12. Quality time over quantity time, always
Intimacy does not have to be based on the amount of time each parent stays with the children. Most parents while co-parenting are hung up on spending exactly an equal amount of time together. There does not have to be a 50-50 split of the time.
Instead, create a sensible division of time. If the schedule of one parent is more hectic than the other’s give that parent a little bit lesser time. That is the importance of co-parenting, to create a schedule that makes sense for your family. Your priority is to think about creating a stronger bond with your children, not about spending maximum amount of time with them.
Is a divorced family still a family?
Shortly put, yes. A divorced family is still a family. Sure, there are two separate homes and the mother and the father might not get along really well, however, they still have a common purpose: their children. This is why divorced couples opt for co-parenting. By following the co-parenting rules, they make sure that their children never experience a lack of love, lack of belonging, or a lack of family. The children are the glue that holds their family together.
You may wonder: should you stay together for your children’s sake, but the truth is, you don’t have to. You can separate from your partner and still provide your children with a loving family. That is what co-parenting is here for.