Divorce: Things You Need to Stop Fighting About #2- Co-Parenting
August 18, 2016
Your divorce is looming. Unsolicited advice is being thrown at you from your family, divorced friends, and sometimes even random strangers. I’ll be the first to tell you; don’t believe everything other people say about divorce. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Every divorce is different with different sets of issues. What may be perceived as typical of divorce to your friend may not really apply to your divorce. Please, please do not make your decisions based on your friend’s experience. That usually leads to unnecessary complication and fighting. Not to mention, a lot of needless attorneys fees. Here is the second of three things you need to stop fighting about right now.
The bottom line is this: you are getting divorced your kids are not. Kids are not property or a tool to use in negotiation. It’s likely that a part of the reason for your pending divorce is related to parenting disagreements. In the midst of the hurt and other emotions during this difficult time sometimes even the most devoted and well-intentioned parent can slip up and drag their kids into it. Even after a peaceful split, co-parenting can be frustrating and exhausting.
I know, I know. You know best. I feel the same way. Just ask my husband. Here’s the thing though, you both think you know best and when you refuse to work together to parent, the court will step in and decide for you. Would you rather have a third party tell you how to raise your kids? In a divorce with kids, the court’s primary concern is what is in the best interests of the children. Unless it directly relates to the well being of your child, your desires are always secondary to your children’s needs. Generally speaking, it is in the best interests of your children that both parents be involved in their lives in some form of co-parenting. Of course that is not always the case. Some parents are actually unfit; however, “unfit” is not based on your opinion. Unfitness is determined by the court and without serious justification, a court is not going to deem a parent unfit. Parenting your children is a fundamental right. The court does not take that right away easily and in Arkansas child custody the presumption is that both parents are fit to care for their children.
Here are some tips for co-parenting:
1. Put your kids needs first. It may be hard to set aside your hurt or anger toward the other parent but for your child’s happiness, security, and overall well being it is important to do so. It is also important not to talk negatively to your child about their other parent or discuss conflicts in front of your child.
2. Do not place your child in the middle of a dispute. Talk directly to the other parent. Divorce is hard on your children too and it’s your job to be mature adults and not drag them into conflict with back and forth between the two of you. Your negativity toward the other parent should not affect the relationship between your child and the other parent.
3. Communicate with each other! Communication is key for a good co-parenting relationship. If you are truly focusing on your kids you will leave your own issues and conflicts out of your co-parenting relationship. Be direct, focus on the child and the issue, and don’t be confrontational in your communications. For instance, don’t say “You need to do x,y,z…”, instead say “Can we consider this or that…”
4. Create a game plan. You should work together to create general guidelines but your parenting style does not have to be identical. However, the big stuff, like prohibited activities and homework should be consistent. Also, please enforce punishments and consequences given by the other parent. This unity will help you to provide consistency for your child.
Respect, compromise, and communication go a long way and will make a difficult situation easier on you and your children. There are always going to be disagreements; however, stay calm, focus on your children, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Contact us to create a headache-free parenting plan.