You separated because you couldn’t communicate, get along, or worse. However, with kids involved, both guardians usually have to engage in co-parenting. Regardless of the amount of time the kids spend between you, or who is responsible for what decisions, when both parents have involvement, you remain co-parents.
At the very least you are both responsible for your children’s transitions between you, some degree of daily care, completing of homework, determining and facilitating extra-curricular activities, and health, if only on an emergency basis.
You want your children to grow up well-adjusted, and you worry about the impact of the separation upon them. However, you may also worry about the care provided by the other parent. The truth is, how you co-parent (manage with your former partner) can greatly determine how well your kids will do.
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These 4 tips may help:
1. Parents have a way of finding out everything about their kids. If you seek to keep something a secret, your co-parent will eventually learn about it. Given this, how would you expect anyone to feel and then react when learning about a secret regarding their kids. To the extent possible then, share all pertinent information regarding the kids.
2. We all have lives to lead, places to go, people to see, things to do. Be respectful of your co-parent’s time. This means arriving on time for all appointments and transfers of the children. If you are going to be late, call ahead. Better to learn in advance than be kept waiting.
3. While many parents worry that things like the daily schedule must be the same in both homes, or approach to care or matters of faith should be similar, the truth is, kids will have a multitude of teachers, coaches and extended kin in their lives. Your kids will have to adjust to each person’s ways of doing things. Do not expect or require that your co-parent do everything entirely the same. As long as it is in the ball-park, kids can do fine. The fight over differences is often more harmful than the actual differences.
4. We all learn by doing. Don’t jump in; don’t rescue; don’t blame or shame. Assuming no abuse or true risk of harm, let your co-parent figure it out. Be available upon request for information or advice, but advice given without being asked can feel judgmental and intrusive. Wait to be invited.
Common to these tips is a sense of boundaries and knowing how to manage oneself when feeling triggered.
Need help to implement these tips? Consider counselling for yourself. Your counsellor may provide some unthought-of solutions.