Divorce is not easy for anyone. If a divorce is necessary, Collaborative Divorce is probably best for all involved, particularly when there are children. You want to make this as easy of a transition for your child as possible. The Collaborative Divorce process is always designed to keep the best interests of the child in mind. A key benefit is that the process supports parents creating together a parenting agreement that is the foundation for a good co-parenting relationship after divorce.
Tips for Healthy Co-parenting
There are certain behaviors and mindsets that help a couple establish healthy co-parenting after divorce. Co-parenting well requires co-operation.
These are my top five recommendations for healthy co-parenting:
1. Heal yourself. There may be hurt or anger from the end of the marriage, and these feelings can make it very hard to co-parent. Find a way to heal your own wounds so that you have the ability to follow these recommendations. There are many ways to recover from life’s heartbreaks: therapy, mindfulness meditation, creative endeavors, religious practice, time in nature etc. Find what you need and take care of yourself.
2. Take care of the child’s emotional needs. The divorce is not a one-time event for a child, and there may be recurring questions or concerns from your child. Make sure the child knows the divorce was not their fault and answer any question in an age appropriate and honest manner. If you feel your child is not dealing well or seems confused by the divorce, then therapy may be helpful for the child.
3. Respect the child’s love for the other parent. Do not say bad things about the other parent in front of, or to, the child. Be kind and cordial to the other parent, especially in front of the child.
4. Never fight over your child in front of them. This is cruel to the child and puts them in an emotional position of feeling that one or both of the parents are bad. If you expose your child to conflict with your ex, go back to Number 1 on this list.
5. Allow for flexibility in the parenting schedule if the child has an opportunity to do something they would enjoy even if it is during the other parent’s time. This works both ways as the child gets older than may ask to go to one parent’s house for an event when it is not their scheduled visitation day. If either of the parents say no, the only person that they are hurting is the child.
Setting up a Co-parenting Plan
The Collaborative Divorce process allows for creative parenting schedules. For instance, with a baby under the age of one, it is beneficial for each parent to have frequent contact as the baby develops bonding with each parent. Perhaps because of work schedules, or the mother/baby nursing needs, overnights are at the mother’s home for an infant. In that case, a creative solution could be that the father comes to mother’s home for bath and bedtime several times a week. This is a win-win for everyone, yet this only works if the parents are committed to cordial co-parenting. The Collaborative process is uniquely designed to foster healthy co-parenting that allows for unique parenting agreements.
How Does Healthy Co-parenting Impact the Child?
Healthy co-parenting will have a positive impact on the child. When parents are able to work together co-operatively to raise their child, the child is not required to pick sides. Parents who carry their anger or disappointment at each other into the parenting relationship after divorce, harm the child. The Collaborative Divorce process supports and guides parents to create a relationship with each other that will support the child.