- Written by Kevin Hickey
Have you ever heard the phrase, “New Year, New Me?” I have. In fact, I say it nearly every time a new year rolls around. I have used this phrase to apply to a healthier diet, exercising more, sticking to my budget, you name it. A lot of the times I have done well with my “New Year, New Me” resolutions, but some have taken a bit more work. The same can be said for co-parenting: it is doable, but it takes some effort and work. Many of my clients apply this phrase to their relationship with their exes and co-parenting plans. Parenting a child after a divorce or failed relationship can be difficult, but here are a few tips to ease that burden for a New Year, New Co-Parenting Relationship.
- Don’t talk bad about your ex … ever. Kids learn by example. They pick up everything you do and are great at reading body language and bad vibes. There is no reason to verbally talk poorly about their other parent. Regardless of what has happened between the two of you, he or she is still that child’s parent. Good or bad.
- Don’t talk bad about your ex’s family … ever. This includes your ex’s new significant other. The same rules apply for them. Remember, regardless of hurt feelings, they are still your child’s grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, and etcetera.
- Try to get along with your ex as best you can. This is difficult and not always realistic depending on the situation that caused the divorce in the first place. Putting the past behind you can be liberating enabling you to put your best foot forward for the new year.
- Never put your children in the middle by making them convey messages to the other parent. This puts them right in the center of conflict.
- Communicate more consistently. Frequent communication is key to avoiding misunderstandings. Communication is best done in person, but if that can’t be done other means like text messages and email are acceptable. A shared calendar is also a good idea. This works particularly well with couples as children get older and have more and more activities.
Making a conscious effort to change will help your kids know that they are more important than any ill feelings you may have about your ex and the conflict that ended the marriage. They will know that your love for them is always first and foremost despite the circumstances. Children whose parents are divorced but have a cooperative relationship will:
- Feel secure and confident in their relationships with both parents knowing that they are loved. This will help them adjust more quickly and easily to all the changes.
- Know what to expect and what is expected of them because of consistent parenting. Parents that resolve to agree on parenting styles with similar rules and discipline will be more successful in other areas of their lives.
- Be mentally and emotionally healthier. Children that are constantly around conflict are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
- Have a healthy example to follow. Giving your children the example of learning to put feelings aside and work together will give them lifelong skills to learn how to peacefully solve problems and work with others no matter what negative feelings there may be.
Staying kid-focused will also help you put angry, bitter, or resentful feelings aside enabling you to act with purpose and grace.
If you are going through a divorce and need help navigating co-parenting agreements, child custody, child support, and visitation, contact Kevin Hickey Law Partners. We have many years of experience practicing family law and have helped many couples reach co-parenting agreements that both parties can live with. To better serve you, we have two offices to better serve you – River Valley, 479.434.2414, and Northwest Arkansas, 479.802.6560.