Divorce can be an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. This is especially true for children. While parents can accept their situation, children may feel differently about the process. If you’re navigating a shared custody arrangement, here are some tips to keep in mind to make it more successful and comfortable for everyone involved.
1. Be Amicable Yet Professional
Being amicable is central to a successful co-parenting relationship. You and the co-parent may be out of each other’s personal lives but you still have to work together to raise your children.
Maintaining a civil demeanor toward each other will help show your children that you’re doing your best to create a healthy relationship, even as co-parents. This step will avoid confusing your children about your current setup and help them appreciate both sides for trying to make things work.
Sharing custody over children is a challenging aspect of parenthood. It’s a complicated reality co-parents must fully understand and accept. Doing your best to be cordial in any significant decision-making process or simple conversation is a great way to build trust and confidence in a co-parenting setup.
2. Express Your Thoughts
Communication is essential to make any attempt at co-parenting successful. Both sides need to express what they’re feeling to build trust. Making yourself understood is a good way to let your co-parent know what you want to do for your child. However, do your best to limit communications to parenting issues to avoid confusing your children.
Listening is also part of this dynamic. By listening actively, you understand what your co-parent is expressing. This extends to dealing with your child. Some parents find it challenging to relate to their children because they have a predetermined idea of what kind of parent they are.
Practicing empathy is an excellent way to express and understand feelings, thoughts and plans between co-parents. Placing yourself in your co-parent’s position opens up new possibilities for proper communication.
3. Be Open to Change
Adjustments will always be present in any relationship. Shared custody opens many possibilities for changes in lifestyle, schedules, arrangements and so on. Whatever the situation is, try to understand it first before reacting. More likely than not, you can handle it as a responsible adult.
Keep doing what you think is working. If opportunities present themselves for the better, take them. Change will always be around the corner in parenting, so it’s important to learn how to embrace it.
4. Respect Boundaries
Some parents are adamant about what they want for their children. Others are more open to hearing suggestions and plans to keep the co-parenting relationship working. Wherever you feel you are in the two scenarios, you must understand the importance of boundaries.
Boundaries are there for the comfort, protection and well-being of children and co-parents. It’s a way to avoid unnecessary issues and resolve problems you and your co-parent have identified. Whether it’s how you manage your designated hours, activities and financial obligations, specific rules must be set and followed.
While this may feel restrictive initially, it’s a step in the right direction if you want the best for your children. No parent wants to expose their children to trauma from loud fights, confrontations or cold treatment. Remember, good fences make good neighbors. This also applies to successful shared custody arrangements.
5. Put Your Kids First
As a co-parent, you must understand that your children should always come first. Children will always remember when you’re absent from a milestone in their lives or fail to keep your promises.
Remember why you’re in a shared custody arrangement in the first place — you want to do right by your kids no matter what. Create memories with them. Cherish your moments together. Make an active effort to relate with them.
Remember that every decision in your agreement should always put the kids’ best interests first. It’s no longer about you and your co-parent. Strive to be the best parent you can be for your kids and they’ll thank you when they’re older.
Doing What’s Best for Your Kids in Shared Custody Arrangements
Your relationship with your spouse may have dissolved but you can still be present in your kids’ lives. This is what shared custody or co-parenting is about. Co-parents must understand that being mature and responsible in all their decisions is essential to ensure they always do what is necessary for their kids’ best interests.