Co-parenting is never easy and is particularly challenging during and after a heated divorce. However, your children are innocent victims, and experts are unwaveringly clear that healthy co-parenting is the key to protecting your children’s mental and emotional well-being.
There is no excuse for anything other than prioritizing the children’s best interests and making healthy co-parenting a priority. This means keeping children-first co-parenting communication at the forefront of all you do before, during, and after your divorce.
Healthy Co-Parenting After A Divorce Is Essential To Your Child’s Wellbeing
Studies prove time and time again that divorces make children more prone to:
- Lower self-esteem and insecurity
- Academic struggles
- Behavioral issues
- Developing substance abuse issues
Putting your children’s well-being first during your divorce goes a long way toward making children feel more safe, seen, heard, and loved.
5 Tips For Healthy Co-Parenting Communication
After more than 30 years of helping families navigate divorce proceedings in the smoothest way possible and with the least harm done, I’ve seen firsthand how crucial co-parenting communication is for childhood health and well-being in both the short and long term.
Here are my tips for healthy co-parenting communication during and after a divorce.
Prioritize mediation or collaborative divorce procedures
Do all you can to use divorce mediation and avoid lengthy, drawn-out disputes whenever possible. The longer you are in limbo, the more stressful it is for your children. If mediation isn’t working, then look for collaborative divorce attorneys so you benefit from individual representation but with a unified goal of minimizing contention, disputes, or other stressful scenarios that trickle down onto the kids.
You do not “lose out” in any way when pursuing mediation or collaboration. In all of the proceedings I’ve facilitated, clients are ultimately grateful that – in addition to saving thousands of dollars – their divorce was finalized faster, with more integrity, and with less extended drama on the home front.
Use the same family therapist and continue going
The idea that a divorce is a final ending is a myth – especially if you have children. The legal marriage may have ended, but your role as your children’s father and mother (or step-parent) never ends. In other words, you owe it to your children to create a new version of your family – and one in which they can feel as comfortable as possible in one home, the other, or at joint celebrations and extracurricular activities.
Maybe therapy didn’t work to save your marriage. Still, I can guarantee the right therapist can save your new, co-parenting family while supporting everyone’s emotional health and resilience in a very new family structure. Using the same therapist is invaluable. It keeps stories unified, and by getting to know each parent’s (or their partner’s) dynamics, your children’s needs and wants are better honored and facilitated. Your divorce mediation or collaborative attorney can provide you with a list of their recommended therapists.
Honor the final divorce agreement as soon as possible
While your marriage is legally dissolved six months after filing the Dissolution of Marriage, most divorce agreements have a “list of things to do” and a timeline to get them done. It’s not uncommon for some (or all) of these to sit on the backburner because both parties experience post-divorce proceeding fatigue.
However, the longer you avoid what needs to be done after a divorce, the more likely it is to become part of your children’s experience. They’ll sense your stress, overhear you talking about things to family and friends, or listen to you or your ex-spouse talking about the other person (a HUGE no-no in co-parenting). Equally harmful, children may witness the two of you arguing or fighting like you used to – even though the divorce is final. In which case, they understandably wonder why you bothered divorcing in the first place, adding to their emotional confusion.
Take action and clear up all loose ends ASAP to keep co-parenting channels as clear as possible.
Never disrespect your ex-spouse or talk about their child custody/visitation failures
This is not easy. Not by a long shot. However, speaking poorly or disrespectfully about your spouse to your children (even older teenagers or young adults) is emotionally toxic. Even if your children speak ill of them, it’s best to remain silent – supporting your child’s feelings but never participating in parent bashing.
Similarly, avoid the temptation to tell children parts of the story that are not their business – like their parent isn’t paying what they owe in child support, is not honoring their child custody agreement, etc. These do nothing but cause pain for your child. Your job is to listen to and honor your child’s feelings without contributing to co-parenting slander. I guarantee that if you do this, your children will be forever grateful to you.
Take advantage of co-parenting apps
Having a hard time speaking to your ex-spouse? This is not uncommon, especially in the earlier days after the divorce. Hopefully, time, self-awareness, and diligent emotional work should ease that a bit. In the meantime, several co-parenting apps are worth their proverbial weight in gold when it comes to everything from child visitation schedules, extra-curricular calendars, or other reminders that are part of every family dynamic – married or divorced. Other helpful features include photo sharing, digital files for important medical/health/insurance info, etc.
A few of our client’s favorite co-parenting apps are:
- Our Family Wizard.
- Cozi (this wasn’t initially a co-parenting app, but many divorced couples appreciate its functions, including the ability to add older children, grandparents, or other primary caregivers).
- 2 Houses.
- Many others are available online.
Having one spot for all of this helps to mitigate the amount of time spent communicating/arguing about who told each other what OR the “who does more” in the emotional labor department – which can bring the past right back into your laps… precisely what you don’t want after a divorce is final.
The Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone Offers Mediation for Better Co-Parenting
Our Bay Area family law offices are 100% dedicated to making divorces as stress-free and integrity-rich as possible. This includes a deep dedication to minimizing any negative effects on our clients’ children. Contact the Law Offices of Gerard A Falzone to begin moving forward.
Let us help you navigate your divorce – no matter how challenging – in a way that keeps family first and supports the importance of communication in co-parenting after a divorce.