Coping with the outfall of a divorce can be trying on any family, especially the children. The most common issue with divorce is that of child custody.
More and more couples have taken to co-parenting, and are working on making an environment fair for the children.
Co-parenting your child after a divorce is no cake-walk. There’s so much to learn, and the child has to adapt to sharing time between two parents and most times between two cities, two different schedules, and splitting holidays.
It will take a lot on your part to ensure that your child feels as comfortable as possible between the shuffling, and you push to make it work at all costs.
But in all honesty, it’s never easy on the first try. Couples trip over the first year of co-parenting as they are still trying to come to terms with leaving their child a better part of the year with an ex.
As a co-parenting father, you’ll have to provide an environment that’s not just favorable, but also toxin-free. Keep the divorce drama to yourself and make your child happy.
We’ll look at some of the ways a co-parenting father can succeed at making life easier for his child.
- Put The Child First
In any parenting situation, the child must always come first. Their needs and happiness should be the criteria for successful co-parenting.
A child takes the fallback of the divorce. No matter how hurt the partners were or how deep the betrayal, a child should be the priority in a divorce case.
How can you be amicable in his presence? By being respectful and showing reverence for each other.
It’s not about your schedule or your partner’s schedule, it’s about what’s best for the child; what environment would be favorable to his growth and emotional sustenance.
Always have at the back of your mind: it’s not about you, it’s not about your partner, it’s about the child.
- Restrain Emotional Outburst
Some divorce burn bridges between couples as not everyone can have an amicable split. Sometimes there’s leftover enmity against an ex-spouse, and the hatred builds in your heart, and you’ll want to explode and let it out. Don’t.
Try to restrain from lashing out at your partner and harboring resent. You can’t have an unstable emotional relationship with your ex and maintain sanity during co-parenting.
- Establish Boundaries
Moving from lovers to strangers can be awkward. The hugs and pecks reduce, and there’s no romantic bond. Boundaries are the only way to ensure that there’s no confusion about what’s important.
Some examples of boundaries might be not inviting your new partner to your ex’s place for a holiday, or not introducing your child to a new partner until both of you agree.
- Avoid Making Demands and Opt For Requests.
“Hey, I want Bella to stay over at my place.”
“Hey, would you be willing to let Bella stay over at my place? I’m free today and would love to spend some time with her.”
Can you see the difference? Making demands pushes the other partner to maintain a firm stand and prompts a negative reply. It shows that you feel you can get away with anything— which might not be what you had in mind.
In co-parenting, there’s no room for demands. If you’re in a fix and would want to swap visitation days, relate with your partner politely.
Explain why the emergency popped up and how you would be grateful if your days were changed. Appeal to the softer side of your ex and make it work.
It’s never going to be like it used to be. You’re separated, and things change. Adapting to this change is only the first step in the transition; you must make it even easier for the child in question.
Compromise on dates, arrangements, and holidays. You might have a free schedule for thanksgiving, and your partner is booked solid on the same day.
There might be times when you’ll have to make an emergency pick up or drop off.
If you live in another city, you must be willing to drive and pick your child if your partner isn’t comfortable with drop-offs. You should be prepared to miss out on some holidays and get invited for some. While holidays matter in our lives, as a co-parent, you might not get it all; you get some, you lose some.
- Don’t Make The Child Pick Sides
It might be tempting to get the child on your side and make them pick you over your partner so that you get out of co-parenting. It’s a scheme that’ll backfire with consequences.
A child shouldn’t have to see his parents badmouthing each other because of parenting duties. Speak only positive when with the child, reminisce on good days with your partner, and ensure he doesn’t think less of the other parent.
No matter how mean or crazy your partner was or is, shield your child from that energy and be a protective dad. If you think filling your child with evil thoughts about your partner is the right thing to do, then you shouldn’t be allowed to co-parent. Also read, 5 ways to teach your child responsibility.
What’s life without communication? As a co-parenting father, you’ll have to be open to communication. Open communication ensures you know when the child is free and how your partner wants to drop off. Having a reliable communication system avoids unnecessary confrontations.
If you’re uncomfortable talking to your partner alone, set up a meeting with a lawyer present, and discuss your child’s well being.
Co-parenting doesn’t mean always staying apart. As a father, you can decide to plan joint holidays; Christmas, Halloween, or any other holiday acceptable by your partner.
The child deserves to have both parents at least once a year in the same place at the same time without having to create separate memories.
Summarily, to succeed as a co-parenting father you must have a working communication system, avoid filling your child with negative thoughts about your ex, put the child first, restrain from an emotional outburst, establish boundaries, avoiding making demands, compromise, and keep working on it.
“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”