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Parenting after Divorce: Five Ways to Effectively Co-Parent

Did you ever tell yourself that your first marriage will be your only marriage?

No one walks down the aisle thinking they will divorce years later.

Marriage is to last forever.

Not all marriages do.

In the U.S. about 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and Tennessee is among the top ten states for divorce. Separation is hard on all those involved, especially the children. We get so caught up in our own feelings that we forget that our children are a product of the union, and they’ve invested time and emotions into it as well. They have this unconditional love for us and they don’t know what life looks like on the other side of things. This is uncharted territory for everyone involved and our children still need the stability of home.

Here are 5 ways to effectively co-parent:

FORGIVENESS

Forgive. Realize that what’s in the past is the past, and as hard as it is to forgive, it’s necessary. There’s no such thing as an unforgivable offense. Now remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is what you need to move forward in a healthy way. Most times, forgiveness is more for you than it is for the other person. Your mind-set must change. Letting go of hurt and anger takes time, but it’s a choice. You must decide what type of parent you want to be. Decide on who matters the most. 

COMMUNICATE

You should get to a point where you can discuss the kids without it getting too heated. Even if you’re not at a point that you can talk face-to-face, send a text message. You have to find a form of communication that works for you. And this does not mean that you communicate through your children. They shouldn’t be placed in the middle because the adults can’t be civil. Putting your differences aside is not only the mature thing to do; it is only right.

INVOLVE THE KIDS

Hear me out first. Kids know way more than we realize. You may argue behind closed doors, but more than likely, the kids have heard a fight or two. They notice the cold shoulders, the awkward and forced affection, the tense facial expressions. They sense the negative attitudes and demeanor. They know something is wrong, but when they get shut out of the process it leaves them to wonder and come up with their own conclusions. Involve the kids with a conversation. Let them know as things begin to change. Get their input. Reassure them constantly that this isn’t their fault and they are still loved. Don’t allow them to go into this blindly. 

CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT

Kids thrive off structure. Consistency is key. Sit down and discuss with each other ahead of time overnight visits, holidays, school pick-ups, vacations, etc. When things change, communicate with your ex ahead of time and work out something that benefits the kids. Don’t allow hurt feelings about the divorce to block the other person from being an involved parent. The children are adjusting to new lives and the transition should be as easy as possible for them.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

It may feel like your world is crashing around you but once you have children, it is about them first. Please take the necessary steps to care for yourself. Seek counseling if needed: for you and your children. The emotional health of you and your children is priority. You can’t run your house, your ex’s house, and control every single situation. You can’t allow your feelings to get the best of you. Change can be difficult and adjusting to a new lifestyle can be hard. Just remember that if divorce is the only option, then it may what’s best for everyone involved. 

Every situation is different. Divorce can be messy and unpleasant, and it takes two to effectively co-parent. There are times that the other person isn’t willing to change. Just remember that divorce isn’t the end of the world and there is life afterwards. You can be happy and so can your kids. You and your ex can have a wonderful co-parenting relationship, as long as you are willing to put in the work. 

Are you divorced with kids? How is your co-parenting situation? Do you have any additional tips you would like to share? Believe me when I say that your input can be the very thing to help someone else move forward. Please comment below.

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