Parenting after divorce is incredibly hard. After all, many spouses aren’t able to agree on how to parent their children when they’re married – being divorced only makes it harder. But while there is no magic formula for making this situation easier, there are things you can do to make it less stressful and less frustrating for you. We’ve put together a simple list of three things you can do ( and not do) to make co parenting a more rewarding experience, both for you and your children.
First and foremost, know that you cannot change your ex. The sooner you make peace with that fact, the sooner you can move forward. It may be incredibly frustrating that your ex feeds your kids junk food when you work so hard to give them balanced meals, or lets them stay up late on school nights when you are committed to a scheduled bed time, but you can’t change that.
What you can change, however, is your own attitude. So make a point of being pleasant and polite when you do interact with your ex. Don’t make every encounter with them an opportunity to to share accusations about their poor parenting skills. No one is going to listen to someone who berates them all the time. That way, when you really do have an issue that needs addressing, they may be more inclined to listen.
Focusing on the Kids
Shared custody, or even custody with visitation time, is about the kids. So keep it that way. Focus on spending time with your children, and making it a positive experience for all of you. Take walks, play with legos, watch movies, snuggle and read stories. Whatever it is that you and your kids enjoy together, do as much of it as you can. When your children are all grown up, it’s not how clean the house was that they’ll look back on with fondness, it’s the happy times you spent together.
Consistency is Key
One of the ‘top ten’ most important issues in parenting is consistency. Kids feel safe when there’s structure and routines they can count on. So one of the best things you and your ex can do is work together to make their transition from one household to another as smooth as possible. If possible, agree on basics like weeknight bedtimes and curfews. But if not, don’t sweat it. Save your energy for dealing with the big issues.
However, when you and your ex cannot seem to be on the same page about any parenting issue, you will just to do what you believe is best for your kids while they are with you, and hope for the best when they’re not. If nothing else, your kids will receive consistency while they are with you, and that’s the best you can do.
This may seem oversimplified. After all, joint custody is a very complex, and sometimes very frustrating issue with endless options for what works and what doesn’t. However, when you break it down, the basic formula is the same everywhere – your kids are the most important part of this, and so whatever you can do to make the situation easier on them and yourself makes sense.
However, while we tend to advocate for working with your ex, there are situations when this just isn’t possible. If your ex is being unreasonable to the point of being abusive, either to you or to your children, or does things that put your children’s health and well being in jeopardy, contact us immediately at 517-886-1000. We can help you resolve that situation with your children’s best interests as a priority.