Co-parenting is a serious challenge for any divorced couple, even if the divorce was amicable. If the relationship between ex-spouses is contentious, that complicates the issue further. However, co-parenting is really important to a child’s mental health, as well as the ex-spouses. Join us as we explore the best ways to co-parent to preserve your sanity and keep your child happy and functional.

What Is Co-parenting?

Co-parenting is when both parents work together to raise their children even after their marriage is dissolved. Unless the marriage was ended because of domestic abuse, mental instability, or substance abuse issues, co-parenting is the best option. Parents who work together allow children to maintain a sense of stability while the household is splitting up. A quality relationship between parents and the child with their parents is linked to lower instances of anxiety and depression. Additionally, surveys suggest that children of people who co-parent are overall more stable emotionally and have a better rate of mental and emotional well-being.

Co-parenting boils down to this: the relationship is over, but the family is not. Oftentimes, ex-spouses feel anger, resentment, hurt, or sadness toward one another. However, children do not need to experience the fallout of those emotions. While the challenge of seeing an ex on a regular basis may seem insurmountable, keep in mind just how much co-parenting helps children.

Tip #1: Feelings Shouldn’t Translate To Behavior

As stated above, it is totally understandable if the end of marriage results in negative feelings. Divorcees often report feelings that range from anger to sadness to confusion. However, as the adult, it is important to prevent intense emotions from impacting behavior. Whether it is speaking with a therapist or venting to a close family member, those emotions have to be processed.  Even with help, these strong emotions may resurface during heated moments. In those times, take a deep breath and remember what the goal of co-parenting is. Focus and make a note to talk to someone later for the kids.

Tip #2: Co-parent As A Team

Co-parents should not be in competition with one another. Effective co-parents move as a unit even though they are separated. A key point of teamwork is consistency. Rules should e the same between houses, as well as the discipline for breaking the rules. If one parent seems more severe than the other, it will dissuade the kids to stay with the strict parent. This imbalance leads to the children favoring a particular parent, and sows the seeds for familial disagreement.