Parenting After The Divorce

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STILL PARENTS ... Remember you may have decided to no longer be husband and wife but you are still Mom and Dad to your children. You need to always show your childís other parent respect. This includes how you act around the other and what you say in front of the co-parent and when the co-parent is not present. A major part of parenting is being a role modeling for your children. You need to model for your children respect. Your children will imitate your behavior. Your disrespect for your former spouse will be the role model your child follow when dealing with other people.

One easy way to show respect is to shop with your children for gifts or cards for their co-parent. Make sure your children recognize the co-parent with appropriate gifts or cards. This would include Christmas time, birthday and Mother/Fatherís Day cards.

CO-PARENTING Ö The aspects of good co-parenting are very similar to good parenting skills, it just a little bit harder because you are in different households.


Conflicts

Be positive. Learn positive conflict resolution techniques. Conflicts will come up, you canít avoid that. Even the best written parenting plan will not avoid all conflicts. Conflicts are a great opportunity to role model conflict resolution to your children.

Keep the kids out of the ring. The kids are not a tool to get back at your ex-spouse. Make sure your conflicts with your ex revolve around a need of your children. You must clear about your childrenís needs and donít transfer your needs unto your children. Second, you must compromise when it is possible.

Set Appropriate Boundaries.

Your house verses the Exís house. This is going to be very difficult but unless the children are in physical or psychological damage, the other parent has the right to use whatever parenting style he/she find appropriate. His/her parenting decisions are most likely out of your control. It is probably a good bet that your ex will not make the same parenting decisions you make.


Both parents should split the various parenting tasks. Try not to let one parent be responsible for all of the day to day parenting and the other only being the fun parent. Share the parenting chores such as parent/teacher conferences, doctor appointments.

Be aware if the kids working one parent against the other. You need to be able to draw the line between what happens at your house, under your parenting style and what happens at the other parentís house. Just because ďitĒ happens at Momís house does not mean ďitĒ needs to happen at your house.

Communication

Find a way to communicate regularly. This can be by email or phone. Make sure you share as much as possible. As a young child, this communication is about basic activities such as eating, sleeping and eating habits. A daily journal can be a great way for both parents to share information. As the children get older, they can communicate more directly with both parents. But this communication should not be left up to the children only. The parents should have a way of communicating on school activities, church effects, sports events, social events and trips out of town.

Develop an understanding of each co-parentís communication needs. For example, you have a job where you canít be reached by phone; so communication needs to be by email several days in advance.

TO SUMMARIZE

First, respect the co-parentís parenting approaches; accepting that differences are okay. Communicate regularly with respect. Set strong boundaries, children will soon learn what is allowed at each parentís household. Donít let one parent assume the disciplinarian role while the other parent gets to be Santa Claus.

There are many other aspects of successful co-parenting. Each co-parenting situation is different and not all suggestions work for all people. One parent may still be working through the pain of the divorce. But, it is possible for co-parents to work through these issues and develop a way to collaborate with the other co-parent. When you are faced with issues of co-parenting, seek out a counselor who has experience in counseling couples in parenting plans, collaborative dispute resolution and working out issues related to effective co-parenting to help with this stage in your life.

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Occupation: Counselor and Life Coach
Cheryl is a counselor and life coach with Discovery Counseling. Counseling is her second career as she has moved from a executive level corporate management Cheryl has a BA from the University of Minnesota, a MBA from North Texas University, a MS from Liberty and is currently enrolled at NCU in their PhD program. Cheryl brings her life experience to individuals and couples as they deal with issues of daily life.
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