Parenting isn’t easy when spouses are happily married, so it’s understandable when a separation or divorce leads to turmoil over custody and visitation matters.
While the end of a marriage can lead to bitter or hurtful feelings between ex-spouses, both of you owe it to your children to put those feelings aside and work in their best interests.
Two types of problem-solving
Peaceful co-parenting requires open communication, empathy and patience, which may seem impossible for many in high-conflict marriages. Regardless of the current relationship with your ex, two basic approaches exist for solving co-parenting issues:
- Strategic: This method is straightforward for co-parents who don’t get along, focusing only on the matter at hand and avoiding any underlying emotional issues. You and your co-parent identify the problem and work toward a solution objectively.
- Social-psychological: Not all former spouses dislike each other. This method digs a little deeper into the emotional reasons that can lead to co-parenting conflicts, which can help avoid future problems or lessen negative feelings.
The social-psychological approach can be challenging for many former spouses to attain. There’s no need for alarm if it’s not for you, as the strategic method works well for high-conflict co-parents.
Tips to keep the peace
When co-parenting issues arise, keep these tips in mind:
- Your children come first: Focus on the best outcome for them. Create two loving households and protect them from any bad feelings you may have for your co-parent.
- Don’t think of your ex as the enemy: Continued hostility towards your co-parent puts your children at risk for long-term emotional and behavioral problems.
- Choose your battles wisely: Don’t turn minor issues into major conflicts. Always try to protect your kids from disputes with the other parent.
- Child-focused communication: Both of you love your kids and want what’s best for them. If you have a strained relationship, limit your interactions only to discussing your children.
Craft a solid parenting plan
It’s advisable to consult an experienced family law attorney who can do much of the heavy lifting by helping you devise a comprehensive parenting plan. While your marriage may be over, both of you can find comfort in working together to forge the best possible future for your kids.