Making a Better Transition from Spouses to Co-Parents
Making the transition from spouses to co-parents after a divorce or separation is never easy. The issues that lead to the breakup have a tendency to linger well after the relationship is over. While it does take some time to come to terms with the end of a relationship and work through problems, these are tasks that must be faced if kids are in the mix. For the sake of being better co-parents to your kids, you and your co-parent should take measures to reach a point where you can achieve a peaceful partnership in co-parenting. Here are four tips for making a better transition from spouses to co-parents.
1. Deal with your own emotions. Beyond the issues that directly involve your co-parent, you are probably dealing with other personal emotions. These may have to do with your feelings about your divorce or separation, your ex-spouse, or other more personal topics. If left alone, these feelings can fester into something even bigger and harder to manage. They can even end up affecting your kids by making it harder for you to focus on parenting.
Take measures to reach emotional stability. Look to those closest to you for support such as good friends and family. Let these people know what you are going through, and allow them to offer help. This might be by way of helping you watch the kids, cook meals, or even just lend an ear to listen to you. While getting the support you need from friends and family helps, seeking help from a professional may also be a good idea. A therapist or counselor can help to teach you skills to help you lower stress and work through your personal feelings in a healthy way. They can also provide a neutral viewpoint when it comes to your emotions. Most importantly, don't isolate yourself from the best parts of your life, such as your kids. While your kids should remain shielded from divorce conflict and other issues you are dealing with personally, let your kids bring light to your day. Allow yourself to fully enjoy your time with your kids free from emotional distraction.
2. Find new ways to communicate with your co-parent. Breakdowns in communication greatly contribute to a relationship coming to an end. This can also play a huge role in post-divorce conflict. If you continue to communicate using the same methods that failed for you once, they are likely to fail you again. Face-to-face arguments or ugly phone calls can easily be overheard by your kids, creating an emotional burden for them which they shouldn't have to carry. If you try and replace verbal communication with emails and text messages, you may find it to be less of a solution and more of a new problem. Long, drawn out emails or short, ambiguous text messages can make it even harder to communicate effectively.
Part of making a better transition from spouses to co-parents will include finding new ways to focus communication on what's important. Online co-parenting communication tools can help you and your co-parent to concentrate on discussing the important topics. Tools that allow co-parents to work off a shared expense register, parenting time calendar, and records of family vital information can help to reduce the number of long-winded emails sent or ugly phone calls made by making this information available right when it's needed. Less time arguing means more time spent focusing on your kids.
3. Respect your new boundaries. Transitioning from spouses to co-parents brings a lot of change. You will not be able to have the same relationship as you once had, and part of this change will involve a new set of boundaries. While it may be difficult not to be curious to know what your co-parent is up to when it comes to their personal life after your divorce or separation, not all of that is your business anymore. The focus of your relationship must remain on your kids.
To make a healthier transition from spouses to co-parents, set the boundaries high to begin. Limit the focus of your interactions with your co-parent to remain solely on your kids. Keep your relationship with your co-parent as business-like as possible. Treat your interactions the same way as you might with a co-worker. Over time, you may be able to develop a new kind of friendship, but even so, your co-parenting partnership should always remain serious and professional. Also, be careful when it comes to social media. Comments or photos on social media can easily be misconstrued into something much different, and high emotions can often be the cause of this. Consider limiting your time on social media or even taking some time off as you work through this emotional period with your co-parent.
4. Keep your kids first. Transitioning from spouses to co-parents will affect your kids almost as much as it will affect you. They are also coming to terms with their parents' new status and everything else that comes along with having parents in two different homes. This is an emotional process for the entire family, so don't let your own emotions hinder your ability to be there for your kids when they need you most.
As co-parents, make fair and honest parenting decisions that are always in your kids' best interests. Be there for your kids emotionally by letting them express their feelings to you, no matter what those feelings may be. Always remind them of how much both you and their other parent love them. Respect your kids' relationship with their other parent by keeping a positive attitude in front of your kids when it comes to him or her. Being able to set your feelings aside for the sake of your kids is a very important step in making a better transition from spouses to co-parents, so keep that in your mind as you move your family forward into this new phase.
Making a better transition from spouses to co-parents is easier when you have the right tools to support better communication. The OurFamilyWizard® website offers calendaring, expense tracking, information sharing, and messaging tools to help co-parents stay connected and focused on family. Click here to create your OFW® account today!