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The importance of a positive attitude toward co-parenting

Divorcing is a complicated process that often brings up strong emotions for both parties involved. In addition to sadness over the end of your marriage, you may feel excited about the prospect of a fresh start.

For couples who share children, however, there is no such thing as a clean break in a divorce. You and your ex will continue to see one another regularly via shared custody, likely for the rest of your lives. In other words, while you may have strong, negative emotions toward your ex, you need to start working on letting those go as soon as you enter the divorce process.

Trying to find a calm approach to interacting with your ex benefits you as well as your children. You need to approach co-parenting, or shared custody, as something you do cooperatively, not an ongoing battle over who is the better parent (or person).

The conflict in divorce is often what upsets kids

Parents divorcing is a traumatic experience for children of any age. However, the more acrimonious and angry the parents become, the harder the divorce is on the children involved. The easiest thing you can do to limit how hard the divorce is on your children is to minimize the conflict between you and your ex.

Of course, that is easier said than done. You and your ex will likely have to put in a lot of effort to find a way to relate to one another that is healthy and calm. The good news is that it is possible.

You need to agree to put the children first

The best way to start building a new, co-parenting relationship with your ex is to realign the focus of your relationship. Instead of perseverating on how you relate to one another, the happiness and health of your children should be the cornerstone on which you build.

So long as you are both willing to commit to shielding your children from arguments and keeping things civil, you can likely work together to make the divorce easier process for your young children.

Set terms in writing for all the important details

Even if you find yourself agreeing with your ex about a number of issues in your divorce, you shouldn't leave things to memory or chance. Instead, commit everything to writing in a parenting plan. Doing so helps to protect your intentions and the relationship with your children.

In the future, when there are inevitably conflicts, you can refer to the written parenting plan that establishes expectations for the adults. A parenting plan helps everyone stay on the same page.

Make a plan for conflict resolution before conflict arises

Whether it's an unwillingness to accommodate a vacation plan or a problem stemming from miscommunication, you and your ex will eventually argue, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Your parenting plan should include conflict resolution ideas, as well as rules for communication during times of stress.

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