10 good ideas to co-parent better and help your children adapt and cope: This week 1-3
What are the kids thinking?
Parents often come to our office seeking financial advice, believing they have the custody part of their divorce handled. Other parents need help negotiating custody, and believe a signed agreement or order of the court means that custody is completely and forever resolved. While a written agreement or order of the court is certainly a big step and a relief for parents, custody is modifiable and children’s needs change. So, what does it mean for custody to be “handled?” And how can you protect your children through co-parenting strife after a custody agreement or judgment?
While a written agreement or order of the court is certainly a big step and a relief for parents, custody is modifiable and children’s needs change.
During divorce, parents see therapists, drink wine, and speak with their friends and family to build a “village” of support, while children are expected to continue to operate as if their lives have not been forever changed, and many times detrimentally. Sometimes, children are embarrassed to discuss their parents’ divorce with their own friends and support systems. While the divorcing parent struggles with stress, fear, and emotional upheaval, an adult understands is better equipped to handle the bumpy road ahead. Even when unintentional, parents who ignore their children’s needs and demonstrate a lack of parental insight and behavior can create an intolerable situation for a child, regardless of age. Children have likely not experienced divorce before, even through anecdote, and do not necessarily understand that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
10 good ideas to co-parent better and help your children adapt and cope:
Unless the other parent is a truly dangerous person (and by dangerous we mean drug addict, violent, and endangering to the children etc.)
1. Do not withhold the children from the other parent. The children need both parents. You are the person who chose to have children with the other parent, and no parent is perfect. If there is one gift you can give your children, do not ever use custody as a bargaining chip. Start with a 50/50 parenting plan unless one party is unavailable, and always establish schedules with the children’s needs as first priority.
2. There are co-parenting classes and counselors who can help you make parenting decisions if you and the other parent agree. This can eliminate the need for contentious litigation and thus pain and stress caused to the children. It is the parents’ responsibility to make decisions together; failure to do so only creates extra confusion and stress for children.
3. Always assure your children that you will always be a family and ACT LIKE IT. For example, custodial exchanges should be peaceful and courteous. This is family time, and it is not the time to hash out issues between adults. Children who are burdened with having to navigate the emotional landscape of their parents express emotional distress. Same goes for family milestones like graduations or religious ceremonies. Be
courteous, cooperative whenever possible, and act like a family for the benefit of your children.