Divorce is a difficult time for couples, especially when children are involved. It is challenging in many respects: financially, emotionally, mentally and physically. Even in cases where the couple gets along, it is a painful process that often brings out the worst in each other.
In situations where couples do not get along, the process is much harder. It can take a long time to settle divorces between people are not willing to cooperate with each other.
The decision to co-parent
Couples who have children have to decide how they will move forward with parenting the children after the divorce is final. In many cases, parents choose to co-parent their children because it is often in the children’s best interests, and it allows parents to participate actively in their children’s lives.
Benefits of co-parenting
Studies have shown that even parents who do not get along can co-parent, and their children benefit from it. Despite the fact that it can be challenging at times if the couple is committed to co-parenting for the sake of the children and they have a solid parenting plan in place, it is possible to have a harmonious parenting experience.
How can high-conflict couples co-parent?
Couples who have a hard time getting along can co-parent if they consciously decide to set aside the feelings they may have for each other when it comes to parenting their children. If the couple is committed to co-parenting, they should:
- Create a detailed parenting plan that includes everything that could possibly occur. For example, their parenting plan should include schedules, pick up and drop off locations, how the parents will communicate, what will happen if there is an exception or accident and one of the parents cannot pick up the child.
- Create a plan for what they will do when they run into a conflict they are unable to solve on their own. They could agree to have a mediator of their choice, for example.
- Be aware that co-parenting is often not easy, and it requires the parents to establish personal boundaries as they move on with their lives and begin rebuilding. Limits are critical so the parents can have a clear separation between parenting and their personal lives.
- Be prepared for conflict. Problems come up, even in situations where the parents get along wonderfully, and it is inevitable that, at some point, there will be conflict. Acknowledging and accepting this, in the beginning, allows the parents to proactively decide how they will handle conflict.
- Exercise self-care as much as possible. Parenting is difficult enough when the parents are married. Divorce makes everything harder, so self-care is critical for each parent. Taking time to do things that rejuvenate and energize each parent can go a long way in creating a more positive environment because the parents will be more relaxed.
No matter how contentious the divorce, parents with children can co-parent and succeed in their plan if they follow steps that will support their efforts.
It is critical for parents to be patient with each other and constantly remind themselves that they are doing this for the children. With time and patience, parents often find that it becomes easier.
Co-parenting is an excellent choice for children after divorce. Studies have shown that children spend more time with each parent do much better in school and in life.
Parents who choose to co-parent should remember their importance and meaning of their actions, so they can motivate themselves to continue this hard work.