Many parents raise children together while living apart. This may be the result of co-parenting after a divorce or because the parents never married. When you have a child with someone, even after the relationship ends, your parenting relationship remains. You both remain parents and are responsibile for your child/children. This person is now your child’s other parent – someone your child loves, looks up to, and will likely take after in some ways – not your spouse or partner. Although you are no longer a couple, you are now a co-parent. To make the process easier, avoid calling the other parent your “ex” and refer to them as “the father or mother of your children”.
Below are some additional suggestions to have an effective co-parenting relationship:
· Don’t project your feelings onto the child or assume the child has the same feelings as you towards the other parent.
o Accept your own feelings and try to understand your child’s feelings.
o Remember it is okay to ask the child why they feel a certain way.
· Avoid sharing your personal feelings or loss related to the divorce.
o With the end of the marriage comes the end of that sharing.
o Separate your feelings from decisions and interactions about your child.
· “Fake it, til you make it”
o Establish boundaries to help keep your feelings under control.
o It is important to have some emotional distancing or disengagement
o Imagine the other parent is your business partner. You have to be polite, have business like conversations, and work together to raise your child.
Preparing for the “Business Meeting”
In order to improve communication with the other parent, it is encouraged that you emotionally detach (and put your feelings aside) when interacting with each other. Respect the common ground you share that you both love your children and want the nest for them. The following suggestions or offered to help the “business of raising your children”.
- Have regular meetings to share important information
- Be polite, respectful, and business-like
- Keep the conversation focused on the children
- Avoid having the child as the “go-between” and carry messages
- Be prepared and structure conversations
- Relay information about: emergencies, appointments, school, your child’s successes, or information about social activities.
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Copyright 2013 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.