Children and separation: Co-parenting tips for parents

For parents who are unmarried and stay apart or those who were married but are now divorced, the co-parenting struggle is real. The entire process can be strenuous and infuriating, especially if you’re dealing with an impossible ex-partner.

However, regardless of the friction that could be between you as parents, it remains relevant that children have both parents engaged in their lives.

 

Counsellor Damien Mouzoun says divorce for couples with children may change co-parenting dynamics.  

 

But for the sake of the children’s well-being, parents should find a way to develop a warm working relationship and find a way of overcoming co-parenting challenges.

 

According to Mouzoun, one of the most toxic things a parent can do separation is tear down their ex in front of their child. 

He says, co-parenting requires discipline and negotiations- depending on the level of the emotional bank account that led to the separation, because the grief level may often affect their innocent children. 

The counsellor shares tips on how to cope with the situation;

Focus on children’s best interest 

Co-parenting should be a child-centred decision, and because of this, divorced parents must keep the kids’ best interest at heart. Regardless of how hard it can be, parents should strive to be on the same team; put their anger and resentment towards each other aside and focus solely on helping their children thrive. 

Set principles 

Define the principles that can guide you as parents in the distance co-parenting. As separated parents, it only means two detached households and to manage consistency between you as parents and for the children, it’s only rational to establish consistent guidelines. This can be in terms of lifestyle, how discipline is imparted and the choice of parenting style or how many days a parent gets to have the kids in a week. Agree on this as adults other than have one party dictate these terms.

Don’t put children in the middle of conflict 

It’s wrong to use your children as messengers to convey information to your ex-partner. When you do this, as a parent, you are putting them at the centre of your conflict. It’s also a sign of respect if you talk to your co-parent directly rather than going through your child to speak for you. 

Clarify expectations

Parents should look out for the best way to ensure that all their children’s needs are met regardless of their situation. This case calls for clearly set expectations, especially in terms of finances. Clarify expectations from both sides on who is paying for what. It’s best if the couple continues to share expenses, this can be effective if there is a set budget. It is also important to keep records for expenses of the two households (in regards to the children). 

Ask for help 

Seek out formal and informal sources of co-parenting support. In most cases, divorced couples tend to carry resentment for each other. This can cause friction and can eventually lead to conflicts, something that ultimately complicates parenting. To deal with these issues, parents can seek help from therapists who can help them overcome their differences and guide them on how to raise their kids as a divorced couple. 

Discipline is key 

Prioritise co-operation along with your ex-partner when it comes to your children’s welfare and matters of parenting. Do this by letting go of angry reactions and put aside resentment from the past, especially in the presence of your children. Do stay calm in front of the children and deal with conflict privately.

Communication is important 

As a parent, you know how hard it can be when you need your partner but they are always too busy to find. Some take it to the extreme and avoid their ex’s calls altogether, but this only complicates everything the more. When co-parenting, communication is key. Ensure that you are available to talk when your partner needs you and don’t hesitate to reach out to them when you need them too.

Seek healing

As a human being, it’s only natural that a broken marriage leaves you with emotional pain. This makes it hard to deal with the same person that hurt you on a daily basis. But as a parent, you need to do all it takes to make the co-parenting thing work. See a counsellor to help you deal with the pain, as you heal, you will finally be able to forgive your partner and this will create a healthy environment for you and your kids. 

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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