Coparenting after a divorce can be an ugly process that can bring out the worst in people. Divorce is a process that breeds selfishness and bitterness. It is no wonder that as you go through a divorce communicating with your former spouse can only get harder and harder. That is why treating your former spouse, as a new business partner may be just what you need for your kids to thrive in your new co-parenting relationship.
- Studies show that successful coparenting relationships are ideal for children’s development after a divorce.
What is coparenting?
A successful coparenting relationship is seen as
- a joint investment in the child
- value and respect the coparenting relationship
- an ongoing communication about the child.
Any successful business has a common goal. As a coparenting couple, your goal is to raise healthy children and every coparenting decision you make together is decided based on how will this affect our business goal: healthy thriving children. As two invested partners in this business, you both are making decisions based on this one very important common goal. Since you are both invested in this business, you would not publically put your business down on social media or to your family members or friends. You would promote your coparenting business to everyone! Remember your business is raising healthy children! In raising healthy, thriving children, it is vital that children hear good things about each parent because each parent is a part of them. When you put down one parent you are putting down 50% of that child, thus hurting your coparenting business and your child.
Consult each other, rather than inform
- First, partners in coparenting business never make decisions without consulting each other. They do not say, “Hey I just bought some land for $100,000, hope you are good with that.” No, good partners consult and listen to what the other partner has to say rather than just inform them of decisions already made. After listening to both sides they come to an agreement based on what is in the best interest of the coparenting company. In this respect, you make decisions based on what is in the best interest of your children. This is often very difficult for the custodial parent to listen to the non-custodial parent’s opinion, especially if they have provided a good bit of the stability during the divorce process. As a coparenting counselor, though, here is what I can tell you. It matters to kids when BOTH of their parents are talking to each other and making decisions together about their life. As much as it is healthy for the children to have both parents involved (it frankly is not always healthy) kids need it and want it.
Don’t share personal information.
- Secondly, in a business relationship, there is a clear boundary between personal and business information. It is no longer your business if they are dating someone, how they choose to spend their money, or what they choose to do on their weekend they do not have the children. The only thing that is your business is an issue related to your children. Initially, it is tempting to make many things your business and use the kids as an excuse to get information, but it is not healthy for you or for your kids. Check yourself. Unplug from your former spouse. That means “Unfollow” them on Facebook. You can still be friends but unfollow them, so you don’t see their feed all the time. Don’t follow them on twitter or Instagram. Create a new life for yourself. Move forward. Let go and let God.
Give facts not feelings.
- Third, when sending an email regarding your child simply state the problem and stick to the facts. Susie wants to join the soccer team. The cost is $500. Even if we split the cost, this will be difficult for me to afford. Do you have any thoughts about how to move forward? If we decide we cannot afford it, Susie will be disappointed. How are we going to handle this? This is not the time to bring up the past and how disappointed you were that Susie’s coparent never took her to soccer practices or came to Susie’s games to support her. Nor is it the time to say how you already paid for Susie’s soccer shorts, cleats, and registration. Be a problem- solver for Susie. Will you be able to afford soccer for Susie this year and if you can’t, how will we together tell Susie, so both of you can share in her disappointment as a family?
Be nice to each other.
- Also, say “please, thank you, excuse me, hello and goodbye.” Do we not teach our children this when they can first start understanding language? Why is it then when we go through a divorce we are excused because of our hurt and pain? What if our children used that same excuse with us? Joey was mean to me, so I was mean back to him! Business partners use common courtesies. They politely say hello or goodbye. When sending an email or leaving a voicemail, they wait patiently for a reply because they give their business partner the benefit of the doubt that maybe something came up and they could not reply right away. They do not take things personally. They act like grown-ups. Kids watch how you communicate, especially when it is hard. Do not make your child choose which side of the field to go to when you watch him/her play a game, because you can’t be on the same side of the field as the coparent. Get over yourselves, your pain and excuses and for the good of your coparenting business. Sit close so your child can see his parents together and enjoy his/her game. Don’t let them worry about mom and dad. Let them worry about their game, which is exactly what they should be worrying about!
Get Help When You Need It
Finally, when business partners hit an impasse and cannot agree on how they should move forward for the good of their business, they ask consultants. Do the same. Find a coparenting counselor or coparenting mediator. Ask the counselor to help you move through the impasse for the welfare of your business/children.
Your children need and want two parents making decisions and caring about them, working together, and enjoying them grow. Divorce is not the final word to your family. It is a word. You and your coparent will decide how that word will impact your family. Only you can decide how your family will move forward and find hope again and to what degree the business will thrive!
Here is a powerful letter from a child to his parents about what he wants his parents to know about their divorce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbTFZ8cvHo4
If you are stuck in your co-parenting relationship and not sure how to move forward, co-parenting counseling with me can help! Please email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 205-538-3978 or go online to schedule an appointment.
Featured Photo by Danielle MacInnes (Unsplash.com)
Sara Dungan, M.Ed, LMFT, ALC, NCC, Certified Parenting Coordinator, Divorce and Family Mediator (Domestic Violence Trained) has her private practice called Sparrow Counseling in Birmingham, AL. She specializes in Parenting Coordination, Co-Parenting Counseling and Divorce and Family Mediation. Her passion is helping parents learn how to become successful coparents, so their children can thrive after their divorce. Contact Sara at email@example.com.
Sara is an Associate Licensed Counselor (ALC) under the supervision of H. Hobart (Bart) Grooms, M. Div, MEd, LPC-S, LMFT-S, Supervising Counselor.