Co-parenting well after a divorce is a challenge. Many couples now share their children almost 50 – 50, compared to a few years ago where traditionally the mother would keep the children and the father would have them every other weekend.
Co-parenting involves both parents laying aside their differences and still parenting together, even though they live apart and are romantically separated. It takes a lot of courage to do this.
The first step you need to take for a successful future of co-parenting is to decide why you want to do it. The answer is easy – for the children. But you have to really believe in this and to accept that there will be bumps along the way. When times get tough you can go back to your original decision to help you get through them.
Make a plan
Making a comprehensive plan with your other co-parent at the start of your journey will help you both to deal with life’s challenges. You may want the assistance of an experienced family mediator to talk you through this.
Try to plan in advance for all of life’s challenges. This will include sickness, new partners, losing jobs, getting promoted, moving house and all sorts of other events. Make a plan about how you will deal with them as co-parents and what you will expect from the other person.
New partners will change the whole family dynamic. Hopefully you will have set out your expectations at the beginning, but if you haven’t new partners can cause successful co-parenting to break down.
Sitting down together early on in the relationship will help to keep communication open. If you have any red lines, it is your job to voice these. It doesn’t matter how silly it may sound you should say if you don’t want the new partner helping to make a Halloween outfit, or taking over swimming lessons. It is easy for resentment to build otherwise.
If you are the one with the new partner, don’t get swept up in your new love and forget your co-parent’s feelings. Don’t expect them to be over-the-moon at your happiness. You may feel like you are between a rock and a hard place if your ex and your new partner don’t get on, but give it time and keep communicating.
Be generous with your time with the children. If something special is happening on your day with them, invite the other parent to join. Similarly, be flexible if they want to swap days or make other small adjustments. Only do something about it if they are starting to change the original arrangement regularly.