Have you often wondered how possible it is to have successful parenting after separation from an ex? If you or someone you know is going through a separation from a spouse, successful parenting after the separation becomes concerning. It becomes more concerning if both parents share underage children.
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Amicable co-parenting after a split is rarely an easy process. Sharing parenting duties with your ex is often the hardest part of separation or divorce.
For the sake of your children’s security, stability and for the kids to have close relationship with both parents, it is important that both parents make joint custody work. Separation is usually a challenging time because it is a time of great adjustment to a new way of life.
One of the main issues that often arise after a separation is the differences that you and your ex-partner may have in the ways that you parent your children. The key point or focus both of you should address is to put the best interests of your children first.
Your roles should be to continue to be the best possible parents to your children, even though you’re no longer together as a couple. In order to put the interests of your children first, you and your ex must learn how to co-parent amicably.
Both of you should figure out how to accomplish the goal of putting your kids first and provide love, security and safety for your children.
What is co-parenting?
Co-parenting is a post-divorce or post-separation arrangement. Both parents continue to jointly participate in their children’s upbringing and activities after separation.
By co-parenting, you and your ex will play active roles in your children’s daily lives. You’ll work together and ensure that all your children’s needs are met. This will enable your children to maintain close relationships with both of you.
Successful parenting after a separation primarily involves working together to co-parent the children you have together. It describes a family situation in which two separated or divorced parents are taking care of their children together while they live apart.
After a separation, there are usually mixed-up emotions, crazy schedules, new spouses, shared custody agreements, etc. Single moms and dads who are recently separated or divorced face a whole new slew of unique challenges.
The quality of the relationship you have with your ex after your break-up will certainly have a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of your children. It will also affect the incidence of anxiety and depression in your kids.
Co-parenting is hard work
Parenting is hard enough for couples in a relationship who live under the same roof with their kids. Subtract a marriage or union, and add another household, and you can imagine the challenge that is called co-parenting.
To co-parent amicably will not be an easy process, especially if your split with your spouse was acrimonious. Co-parenting and joint custody arrangements can be stressful, exhausting, and sometimes infuriating. This will be worse if you have a contentious relationship with your ex.
There are likely to be issues regarding your ex’s parenting abilities, child support, and other financial issues after your split. Issues will arise regarding health insurance and payments or co-payments for eye care and dental services for your children.
Are you overwhelmed by resentment?
You may be overwhelmed and worn down by the resentments in your relationship. Yet, you have to make shared decisions regarding your children with this person that you have grown to despise?
“Crazy”, you keep saying to yourself!
If you don’t get along with your ex, something as simple as having to deal with them during your kids’ drop-offs will be daunting. Speaking to someone you’d rather forget all about can be extremely frustrating and annoying.
Unfortunately, you have to deal with them. The most important thing you should always remember, however, is that your children have to come first.
For the sake of your children’s well-being, you and your ex should strive to overcome your co-parenting challenges. You must develop a cordial working relationship. This will be easier said than done, but it is doable.
Always resolve conflicts with your ex quickly. By doing this, co-parenting between you and your ex will work in a manner that will optimize your children’s ability to thrive.
How to make co-parenting work
To be successful in co-parenting with your ex, you should try as much as you can to separate the personal relationship you had with your ex from the co-parenting relationship you now have with them. The relationship you have now with your ex is a completely new one.
You’re no longer spouses. You’re now co-parents to your children.
Your new relationship is entirely about the well-being of your children, therefore it shouldn’t be about either of you. You should remember that although your relationship with your ex is over, your family is not.
Your most important priority now should be to always act in the best interest of your children. Your first step to being a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children’s needs first, well ahead of your own.
The following 20 tips should help you and your ex put your differences aside and achieve successful parenting after your separation.
From general communication, to joint custody agreements to scheduling tips, consider this your guide to creating strategies for successful parenting after separation or divorce.
For successful parenting after separation, stay focused on your children
No matter how angry or resentful you feel towards your ex, always remember that your child’s interest is at stake. Focus on what’s in the best interest for your child and act with grace and purpose.
Whenever your anger feels overwhelming, it may help if at this time you pick up one of your children’s favorite photographs and look at their smiling face. Looking at the photograph should help calm you down. Always carry a favorite photograph of your child on you for this purpose.
Curb negative emotions
For successful parenting after separation, your own emotions must take the back seat. This includes any hurt, anger, and resentment that you may have for your ex. The needs of your children should be your priority.
Setting aside such strong emotions will likely be the hardest part of learning to work in cooperation with your ex, but it is perhaps the most vital. Remember, co-parenting is not about your feelings or the feelings of your ex. It’s about your child’s stability, happiness, and well-being.
You may be hurt and angry, but you shouldn’t let those feelings dictate your behavior when it comes to co-parenting your children. If you do, your behavior will hurt your child.
Let your motivation be what is best for your children. It is in the best interest of your child that you work cooperatively with your ex, as hard as this might be.
Tame your temper
Refrain from calling, texting, or sending an email to your ex when you’re mad and raging from what they just did that upset you. Whenever this occurs, try to immerse yourself in some activity that will distract you from the reason why you’re hopping mad.
If possible, you should sleep over your anger and frustration and respond to your ex the next day when you’ve calmed down.
Never vent to your kids about your ex
No matter how angry, disappointed, or hurt you are, you should never vent to your kids about your ex-spouse. Don’t refer to your ex as a jerk or call them other derogatory names when talking to your child about them.
If you feel like venting, talk to a friend, a therapist, or even your pet at home. These should be good listeners whenever you need to get negative feelings off your chest.
Keep it positive about your ex to your kids
This may be difficult, but it’s important to allow your children to have the most positive relationship that they possibly can with both parents. The more positive, respectful and civil you are with your ex, the more comfortable, secure and stable your children will view their new lives.
Make your children understand that you’re still mom and dad. Make them understand that you will both continue to be a part of their lives, even though they live in different homes now. Avoid negative comments to your kids about your ex, and keep explanations as simple as possible.
Don’t make your child feel like they have to choose between you and your ex. Your child has a right to enjoy a good relationship with their other parent that is free of your influence.
As separated or divorced parents, you and your ex should both stay flexible. You should communicate openly about your children, and allow maximum contact between your children and your ex.
Never put your children in the middle
Remember, whatever ill feelings and bitterness you have towards your ex, they are your issues. They’re not your children’s.
You may never have completely gotten over the hurt and feelings of resentment caused by your break up. However, when it comes to your kids, you should compartmentalize those feelings. You must resolve to keep your issues with your ex away from your children.
Improve communication for successful parenting after separation
For co-parenting to be successful after a separation, you need consistently peaceful communication with your ex. Maintaining good lines of communication is critical to continue successfully parenting your children.
Again, this may appear insanely impossible. However, if you always have the mindset that communication with your ex has the highest purpose for the sake of your child’s well-being, you’ll make good progress.
You don’t necessarily always have to meet your ex in person if you don’t feel comfortable. Meeting in person can be avoided just to simply avoid unnecessary conflict.
Utilise other options such as speaking with your ex over the phone or exchange text messages, emails or fax with them. The goal is to figure out which type of contact works best for both of you and establish conflict-free communication.
Discuss with your ex and determine a method that will allow both of you to continue to effectively communicate about your children and work together to make decisions in the best interests of your kids.
It’s not uncommon to make incorrect assumptions that the other parent is aware of scheduling changes, school events, outings or other issues affecting their child.
Often parents expect children to be the messengers between them, and this is a very difficult and emotionally harmful role for your child to have to play. This is one of the main reasons why communication between you and your ex should be an effective one through a medium chosen by both of you. This will ensure that you can communicate directly with each other and not through the children.
Maintain a business-like relationship with your ex
You should approach your new relationship with your ex as a business partnership and work as a team, the “business” being your children’s well-being. Always address your ex politely by speaking or writing to them as you would a business colleague.
You should be respectful, cordial and neutral. Parenting your child will involve many decisions you’ll have to make with your ex. These decisions will have to be made whether you like each other or not.
If you don’t get along with your ex, think of them as a colleague you dislike, but you have to work with. You may never be friends with them, but you’ll have to learn how to tolerate them enough to solve problems together for the sake of the children.
Joint decision-making will be easier if both of you cooperate and communicate without blow-ups or bickering. You should be able to communicate well as co-parents because joint decision-making is usually in the best interests of your children.
For all difficult or major decisions regarding your children, it will be helpful to get the opinion and input of your ex to avoid conflict down the line. Many parents want to be part of their children’s lives even if they no longer live in the same home as the children.
If you commit to consistent teamwork with your ex, the details of child-rearing decisions tend to fall into place.
Making important decisions
Remember that co-parenting will involve making important decisions with your ex regarding issues such as education, financial matters, medical needs, etc of the children.
You should both decide who should be primarily responsible for communicating directly with healthcare professionals or attend medical appointments with your children.
Keep accurate records for shared expenses and set realistic budgets when it comes to financial issues regarding taking care of your children.
Your child’s school should be made aware of their new living arrangements, especially if there will be changes regarding who picks them up from school and who attends extra curricular activities.
Conversations should be kid-focused
Interactions and conversations with your ex should not focus on your needs or theirs. They should always be about the needs of the children only, and you should both commit to frequent communication with each other.
This may be very difficult at the beginning of your co-parenting, but it will help your children through the progression of not having both parents under the same roof any longer. When you and your ex communicate frequently, it will give your children the feeling that you’re both getting along well as a team.
That will decrease their stress level and increase their sense of security.
Listen to what your ex has to say
For successful parenting after separation, you and your ex should show maturity and listen to each other. Listening to your ex doesn’t signify approval. Rather, it conveys to your ex that you listened and understood their point of view. You’ll lose nothing by allowing your ex to voice their opinions.
It also helps to occasionally ask your ex’s opinion on issues you don’t feel strongly about. This simple technique will encourage positive communication between both of you.
Always choose your words carefully
Don’t let your ex think you’re unreasonably demanding because of your choice of words. When making requests, try to use words such as “Can we try this…?” or “Is it okay if we try this…?” or “Would you be willing to…?”. With such words, you will come across as being compromising and not demanding.
You should train yourself to not overreact to your ex. There may be times when it’s obvious that your ex is trying to push your buttons. Remember, you have to deal with them for the length of your children’s entire childhood and even beyond.
Learn to apologize to your ex when you’re sorry about something. Sincerely apologizing when you feel you’re wrong can be a powerful tool. It will help in moving your relationship with your ex past that of enemies, for the sake of your children.
Be flexible with plans & schedules
No matter how carefully you or your ex may have made your plans or schedules, things might sometimes come up that are out of your control or theirs. It is important that you both understand that this can happen.
Try to be as flexible as possible. Allow the other parent and the children to have time together whenever possible. A special outing your child has with your ex may sometimes cut into some of your time. If this happens, calmly let it be. It’s not the end of the world.
You don’t have to fuss over that and start making threats. It is important to show flexibility, your ex is more likely to be flexible with you as well.
Make transitions and visitations easy
Moving from one household to another after separation from your ex can be a hard time for your children. Saying “Hello” to one parent means simultaneously saying”Goodbye” to the other parent. This can often be confusing to your children.
Make the transitions and visitations easy on your children. You may do this by staying positive and taking them to your ex on to time. Remind your kids a day or two in advance of their visit to the other household. Also, help them to pack their bags if they’re still very young.
To make packing simpler, keep basic things such as toothbrushes, body lotions, nightclothes, and clothes at both houses.
Always drop off the children and let your spouse drop them off when the visitation is over. Do not go over to your ex’s to pick them up after visitation.
Befriend your ex-spouse’s new love
After your separation, your ex may have moved on and has a new love in their life. This means that someone you haven’t vetted will be spending time with your children and helping to raise them. This can be terrifying.
Talk to your ex’s new love and politely explain your worries to them. Ask them about their expectations regarding your kids and feel them out.
Being open and transparent to your ex’s new love will help pave the way to a healthy relationship between both of you. This will also help your children to be close to them as well.
Maintaining rules for the children
You and your ex should establish consistent rules and guidelines for raising your children. This will ensure that rules are consistent in the two households and the kids don’t have to go back and forth between two homes with radically different rules and disciplinary guidelines.
Rules such as curfews, TV watching, and homework activities should be consistent and followed in the same routine in both households.
Maintaining the children’s schedule
It is important that children’s schedules are maintained, regardless of the household that they’re in. Such schedules as homework, mealtimes, bedtimes should be consistent in both households. This will help the children adjust well in both households.
When a child refuses to visit another parent
It is common that sometimes children may refuse to go to stay with one parent. If this happens, it’s important to find the cause of the refusal.
Talk to your child about their refusal. The problem may be easy to handle, like paying more attention to the child or having more entertainment or more toys.
Talk with your ex about the refusal. This has to be emotional and challenging, but you should both try to figure out what the problem is and remain sensitive and understanding as you attempt to resolve this touchy issue.
As you co-parent with your ex, there are bound to be disagreements on some issues, no matter how hard you try to work well with each other. Show consideration and respect as you continue to dialogue with your ex over the matter.
Remember to not discuss your differences of opinion in the presence of the children. If you need to, talk to a third person or a therapist in order to resolve any issues that both of you are unable to resolve on your own.
Sometimes, you may need to compromise and accept your ex’s point of view as often as they compromise with you also.
Use stress-relief measures
There may be times when you’ll find it impossible to stay calm, especially if you’re dealing with a difficult ex. Parenting requires hard work and when co-parenting with an uncooperative ex it becomes extremely daunting.
There are many days you will feel like it is too much and you can’t do it anymore. You should have stress relief techniques and practices in place for such situations so that you’ll stay in control and not fall apart when pressure builds up.
Breakups are always a very difficult experience for anyone who’s been through it. They’re much harder to process when kids are involved.
If you’re not on good terms with your ex, then the split can adversely affect your children. When your children are very young, it’s important that they spend ample time with both parents. This is vital for their security and stability.
As co-parents, you must always keep your children’s needs and well-being first.