Even after a divorce is finalized, it can leave behind feelings of bitterness between ex-spouses for quite a while. While it is true that time can heal even those kinds of wounds, many do not have the time they need to recover when they have to co-parent their children.
Divorce is not easy, and co-parenting after the fact can be even more challenging. Both spouses might have a different way of parenting that frustrates the other. When parents face frustrations in co-parenting, here are a few questions they can ask themselves before moving forward, so they can continue to co-parent successfully.
1. Am I putting my children first?
Personal feelings of resentment or bitterness leftover after the end of a marriage should not come before a child’s needs. They also should not influence a child’s emotions about their other parent.
Co-parenting can become incredibly challenging if parents place their child in the middle of disputes or get caught up in their own emotions instead of concentrating on being a parent.
It is critical for both parents to put the child’s needs before anything else. This can be beneficial for both parents and children in the long run. When both parents prioritize their children, it can create a sense of routine and stability in the child’s life. It can also help both parents set aside their differences if they disagree or fall into old arguments.
2. How is this arrangement working for our family?
Parents should ask themselves—as well as each other—this question regularly. Most divorced parents in North Carolina have a custody order or a parenting plan they established during the divorce proceedings. These can be valuable tools to help parents approach their co-parenting schedule and responsibilities.
However, these tools can also be the reason for co-parenting stress. As life changes and families find their new normal after divorce, it may be necessary to revisit and adjust the co-parenting arrangement, so it fits everyone’s needs.
Parents can make changes by:
- Establishing boundaries with their ex-spouse
- Revising their decision-making strategies regarding the child
- Adjusting their methods of conflict resolution
- Asking their children their thoughts and opinions on the arrangement
Being flexible is essential to reduce the stress and pressure of co-parenting. It is also the key to help make co-parenting work.
3. Am I being too hard on myself?
Parenting is already one of the most challenging tasks. It can become even more so after a divorce when everyone in the family is trying to find their new normal.
Divorced parents are often competitive, or they hold themselves to high standards because of guilt. This can only make parenting harder. It is good for parents to strive to be the best parent they can be for their children, but it is also important for them to give themselves a break as they readjust to the life changes after divorce.