While going through a divorce can be stressful for spouses, it’s often a devastating experience for their children. That’s why most parents try to make the transition as easy as possible.
Parents want to minimize the harm that continuing conflict can inflict on their kids, but for some, that’s easier said than done. The question becomes: “How can we create a peaceful atmosphere when we can barely speak to one another?”
Co-parenting or parallel parenting
Two basic forms of parenting relationships exist after a divorce. Each family is different, so the structure of your relationship may not neatly fit in either category, which are:
- Co-parenting: Parents in this category still respect each other and make all parenting decisions together after their divorce. While they don’t always agree, they have a system to deal with disagreements while being flexible and creative in finding solutions. They may even attend family events together.
- Parallel parenting: These former spouses want little or nothing to do with the other and rarely communicate. Their kids live in two parallel households, and their relationship and decisions related to their children are strictly outlined in the custody agreement and parenting plan.
While co-parenting would logically seem to be the preferred structure, a parallel parenting relationship can be a positive arrangement to establish a peaceful environment for children.
Where do you and your ex fit?
Most parents typically fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Co-parenting may be a better fit for one, while the other may be better suited for a parallel relationship. Ask yourself these questions to determine your place on this spectrum:
- Can we eliminate arguments to create a peaceful environment for our kids?
- How important is it to work together and cooperate over parenting decisions?
- How much communication can I tolerate with my ex?
- How much contact do I want to have with my former spouse?
Have a structured parenting plan in place
Regardless of whether you and your ex-spouse remain on good terms, the best way to approach conflict is by having a detailed parenting plan. The agreement outlines how you’ll share holidays, vacations and birthdays with your kids.
It also specifies how all the other important decisions are made, such as medical, educational and religious. Having a plan that puts their kids’ needs first is the best way mom and dad can reinforce their love, helping their children recover from divorce and establishing a healthy and strong foundation for their future well-being.