Divorce tips to co-parent better - because it’s really all about the kids
by Patience Domowski, LCSW
1)Don’t try to ‘get back’ at your ex via the kids such as trying to take the kids away, limit visits, get the kids to not like them, etc
2) Try not to always have your way or the control. It’s about what’s best for the kids, not you. If you and your ex both think your opposing ways are the best for the child and you can’t agree- meet with a mediator or therapist.
3) Don’t use your kids as “spies” asking what their other parent is doing or who they are dating (there’s social media for that)
4) Don’t let your kids get stuck in the middle. They shouldn’t have to hear both sides and make a choice whom to believe. Don’t make them feel like they have to take sides.
5) Don’t bad mouth your ex to the children. Even if its completely true. Try to find something nice to say or don’t say anything.
6) Don’t try to get your child to not like your ex or their new stepparent (if applicable). It’s okay for them to love mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad, new sibs, etc all at once.
7) If the kids ask why the divorce occurred and it’s a complicated or “adult” reason, don’t tell the children exactly what happened, instead explain that ‘mom and dad just couldn’t work things out’ reassure the child you still love them and that won’t change and that the child is not at fault at all. Be careful about saying you don’t love the ex anymore because sometimes children worry that because parents don’t love each other anymore they might not love their children anymore at some point too.
8) If you have to argue with your ex, try not to let the children hear. Use a professional or unofficial mediator if needed. Try not to respond in anger to texts, emails, etc. Wait until you’ve cooled off before replying.
9) Spend quality time together, especially if you don’t have a lot of time together. Do fun things together, talk, bond. Sometimes do things one on one with the kids (without your new spouse or other children if possible) so they get some alone time. Encourage them to talk by being open and not judging or criticizing.
10) Allow your child to take favorite toys and comforting transitional objects, and call their other parent if they miss them. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you because they miss their other parent or ask for them. Try to help ease the transitions.
11) If your child seems distressed about the divorce, arrangement, etc have them go to therapy. If parents aren’t handling it well go to therapy and handle your stress yourself, don’t dump/vent to the kids.