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How to Co-Parent with an Ex-Spouse
After your divorce, you and your spouse will hopefully both want to still be a very active part of your children’s lives. It can be challenging to make sure that you are both spending ample time with your children, so here are some tips for effectively co-parenting with an ex-spouse.
Talking to your ex-spouse may be awkward and painful, especially right after the divorce, but the two of you are going to have to speak to each other about how you’re going to make arrangements to spend time with your children. Try to have these conversations in person as much as possible, and come up with a plan that you can both stick to. Also, avoid passing messages through your children, no matter how old they are. Also, making it to important events in your child’s life and knowing how often you should be visiting your son or daughter is your responsibility, and messages can get crossed when you’re trying to avoid speaking to your ex-spouse directly.
Try to maintain family time
As much as you can, try to make sure that you schedule events where both you and your ex-spouse can spend time with your children. No matter how old your children are, or how long you and your spouse have been divorced, your kids will still like to see you together, especially if your kids know you are making the effort to ‘come together’ for their sake. For graduations, birthday parties, and recitals, try to make sure that you and your spouse can both make it to the event, so that your child knows that while the marriage may have ended with you and your spouse, it’s always nice for your children to know that you are willing to put aside your differences for important events in their lives. This may take a while depending on the nature of the divorce, so don’t try to force it. However, both parents should be making an effort to get along with each other, at least in front of the children.
Talk to your children
One of the best ways to make sure that you and your ex-spouse are doing a good job of parenting after the divorce is to talk to your children. Ask your kids what they think you can do to make sure that they still feel loved and accepted, and whether or not they think you are spending enough time with them, both separately and together. Make sure that your children know that they can come to you any time to talk to you about how they’re feeling about the divorce, and even let you know when they’re angry or upset with you for leaving your spouse. Make it a point to tell your children that they should talk to each parent separately (i.e. if your kids want to talk to you about your ex-husband or ex-wife, encourage them to talk to the parent they are upset with).
You should make sure that you’re very honest with your children about your divorce, and the arrangements that you and your ex-spouse are making when it comes to parenting. Keep in mind that getting used to being divorced and having your children spend time in two different homes will take some adjusting for everyone involved. When plans change, or if you and your ex-spouse have to change your schedules every once in a while, inform your children of these changes as soon as you can. By being mature and responsible about sharing the time that you spend with your children, you can help your kids to become better adjusted to their new lifestyle, and will help to maintain and develop the relationships that your children should have with both parents as they grow up.