February 27, 2020 | Custody and Parenting

Co-Parenting: it’s all about give and take

It is critical during every stage of separation, divorce proceedings, and custody battles that you refrain from talking to your children about the conflict and talking negatively about the other parent. There is no benefit that can be derived from talking negatively, only pain and conflict.

Remember that your children have the right to live and reap all the benefits of their childhood, and it is your responsibility to shelter them from the conflict, regardless of the war that you and their other parent might be facing. Even if it is not contentious, the same rules apply.

In the same vein, you need to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent. How can this be done when you might currently hate the other parent and may still be grieving from the loss of the relationship? You should encourage the transfer when there is a mid-week custody exchange, express interest in the activities they did with the other parent, help your child if the child has difficulty changes houses, say things like “you are going to have such a great week”, etc.

The message is – think first before you speak. Ask how is this going to affect the child and is it appropriate.

At the end of the day – ensure your children are happy and not harbouring guilt of your unhappiness due to the parental conflict. Every decision that you make needs to be child focused and ensure that you are always acting in your children’s best interest. Your children will thank you one day!

Read More: Co-Parenting Tools for parents: there’s an app for that!

Important questions to consider before you criticize the other parent to the children [1]:

  1. What is my real reason for revealing this information to the children?

  2. Are my children being harmed by the behaviour I am about to criticize? Or are they being harmed by not having the information I am about to reveal?

  3. How will it help the children to hear what I am about to tell them?

  4. Do the possible benefits of revealing this to the children outweigh the possible risks?

  5. If I was still happily married to my spouse, and I wanted to protect our children’s relationship with him or her, how would I handle the situation?

Co-parenting tips for communication between the divorced/separated parties by email [2]:

  1. Keep it factual and about the children, not about each other;

  2. Keep it neutral-avoid emotion;

  3. Keep it polite and respectful and avoid sarcasm, derogatory comments, negative innuendo;

  4. Keep it non-judgmental (or evaluative)

  5. Don’t make assumptions – ask questions politely for clarity

  6. Focus on the present

  7. Keep it brief and to the point; and

  8. Comply with previously agreed response time