I recently read an interview in Elle Magazine, where a journalist asked Irina Shayk, “what was it like co-parenting with Bradley Cooper?” Her response, “I never understood the term co-parenting, when I’m with my daughter, I’m 100 percent a mother, and when she’s with her dad, he’s 100 percent her dad. Co-parenting is parenting.”
Co-parenting is not referring to if you are your child’s parent 50% or 100% of the time. Instead, co-parenting refers to the relationship between former spouses and their ability to work together to raise their children. There is no one specific way to be a good co-parent, but we have compiled our top five tips:
Your children’s needs must come first
After a messy divorce or separation, you may feel intense anger or sadness. You cannot allow your prior relationship issues to affect your children. Before you act, ask yourself how will your children perceive you? Love your children more than you dislike your former partner.
Find an effective communication strategy that works best for your family
When you are newly divorced or separated, face-to-face communication may be too emotional. However, you can still communicate via text messages, e-mails, or even a co-parenting app such as Talking Parents. There are co-parenting apps that help to categorize conversations or monitor the tone between parents.
Do not disparage your former partner to your children or allow others to disparage your former partner to or in the presence of your children
Studies show disparaging your co-parent in front of your children is detrimental to their development. Children often see themselves as a combination of both parents, and if you disparage their other parent, you may make your child feel insecure. If you need to vent, call friends, your parents, or a therapist outside of the presence of your children.
Recognize the importance of your children having a positive relationship with both parents
Even though you ended your romantic relationship with your former partner, it is undeniable that it is valuable for children to have an opportunity to know and spend time with both parents. YOU chose to end the relationship, they did not, they still need and want both parents.
Forgive yourself and your former partner
Even though the divorce/separation rate is about 50%, nobody commences a relationship thinking they will get a divorce/separation. So, forgive yourself and your spouse for whatever role you each played in your relationship ending. Therapy is a powerful tool for self-healing and during this difficult time, we encourage our clients to utilize this tool to get them through this situation.
While co-parenting is a form of parenting, it is a skill that requires thoughtful and consistent efforts by both parents to develop. If you are struggling to co-parent with your former partner, contact Schwam-Wilcox & Associates to schedule a consultation to discuss methods to improve your co-parenting dynamic.