The American Coalition for Fathers & Children reports that the "vast majority of kids want more time" with the non-custodial parent following a divorce. While there are some situations in which it is difficult to stay connected, in general, the State of Texas presumes that children need to have contact with both parents and encourages parents to stay involved with their children. If two people cannot live together and parent, how can they ever learn to co-parent following the divorce? It is possible.
Here are some tips to help you and the other parent work together:
- Remember that co-parenting is the best option for the children. It helps them to feel more secure, and they benefit from the consistency of rules and rewards between homes. It sets an example for getting along and for problem-solving that may help your child do better in school and social settings.
- Separate your feelings from your behavior. You might be hurt and angry, and you probably have every right to be, but do not let these feelings dictate how you behave. Think of your divorce as a new relationship with your ex-spouse. It is not going to be easy, but when you stay focused on what is important (your kids), you can remember why you need to act with grace and purpose.
- Do not use the kids as messengers. Keep negative feelings about your ex to yourself, and do not try to compete with the other parent. Your child has enough love to go around. Make good memories with your time instead of complaining.
- Find a mediator who can help you with the big problems. Learn from your mediator for the next time.
- Before saying anything, think about what is best for the child. Breathe and be flexible.
- Create an online calendar that can be updated by both of you. Give the other parent the opportunity to be present during doctor's appointments and school events. No, you do not have to be the secretary, but a shared calendar is good for communication.
- Aim for some consistency when it comes to rules and schedules. Try to get your child to bed around the same time as the other parent. Make sure schoolwork is done before playtime.
- Co-parenting is not 50/50 parenting, it is shared parenting.
Find a lawyer who focuses on your goals
When you are kid-focused, you likely want your attorney to be kid-focused as well. Instead of fighting over who gets Wednesday afternoons, find a solution that fits your child, which is preferred to letting the courts decide when you each see your child. Rise above your marital disagreements and find a way to work together for your kids.