I’ve often found the title “co-parenting” somewhat of a humorous irony, a conundrum. Think about it. Here you have two people that just went through an emotionally hurtful process of divorce and in many instances despise each other. Then it is suggesting that they be calm enough to have a mature conversation about parenting. It’s like the democrats and republicans suddenly compromising to prevent the fiscal cliff after four years of resentment.
Adding fuel to the fire, the one skill that is most critical in co-parenting – communication – is also one of the widely known primary reasons why couples get divorced in the first place! And having kids plays a major role with communication issues; studies have found that marital satisfaction decreases 70% after the couple has their first child. And as much as 20% of couples get divorced specifically due to different parenting styles.
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Now all of a sudden when the divorce is over, voila, two people that have negative feeling for one another and can’t communicate miraculously overcome all their issues with each other to become effective, mutually agreeable parents. Ha, ha on us!
Sometimes life is really funny when you sit back and realize its ironies.
Perhaps there is some hyperbole in the above, but my point is to describe an environment that most divorced parents face just after divorce. Further complicating the co-parenting effort, those newly divorced are still either jockeying for power and control between each other or are too emotionally beat to take on productive co-parenting discussions.
So how do we overcome this seemly paradoxical situation? Divorces Guys has developed the 10 Dos and Don’ts of co-parenting for parents:
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- Keep appropriate expectations; encourage and work towards cooperation but expect it to be slow.
- Accept and embrace each parent’s different parenting styles - it exposes kids to varying opinions.
- Agree on a handful of personal values to teach your kids, the rest can be personal variations reflecting your beliefs.
- Create a similar behavioral structure for each home (when to go to bed, homework expectations, behavioral boundaries). This created rule consistency and reduces confusion.
- Develop a network of friends to vent and share ideas. Your friend will also keep you on track and correcting you when you’re in the wrong.
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